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Levelt, Claartje


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Claartje Levelt, born in 1965. Ph.D. from Leiden University. Professor of First Language Acquisition at Leiden University.

Theme Group Fellow (1 April 2017 - 30 June 2017)

Understanding and Improving the Outcomes of AGL Infant Studies

Project Description

Experiments using the Artificial Grammar Learning (AGL) paradigm with infants have presented mixed results, some studies showing that the infants learned the rule and were able to generalize, other studies failing to show rule learning. Also, it turns out to be hard to replicate the results of some of these studies. It is known that infants learn rules more easily with speech stimuli than with non-speech stimuli, like pure tones, or visual objects. However, experiments using speech stimuli are not always successful, while certain types of visual stimuli do trigger rule-learning. I will focus on the question how specific phonological, phonotactic and acoustic characteristics of the stimuli used in Artificial Grammar Learning experiments impact the results of AGL experiments – specifically those with infants. Speech stimuli used in both published and unpublished experiments will be analyzed in every possible way, i.e. phonologically, phonetically, acoustically, statistically (segmental frequency, bigram frequency etc.), and compared on the basis of their success in promoting rule learning. Finding specific characteristics of stimuli that lead to successful rule learning will not only help us to design better experiments, but will also increase our insight in the rule learning mechanism itself. In addition, novel ways will be sought to increase the information value of infant studies, and to make them better-suited for comparative research with non-human animals.

Selected Publications

Ter Haar, S., Kaemper, W., Stam, K., Levelt C. & C. ten Cate (2014). The interplay of within-species perceptual predispositions and experience during song ontogeny in zebra finches (Taeniopygia guttata). Proc. R. Soc. B 20141860. 

Levelt, C. (2012). Perception mirrors production in 14- and 18-month-olds: the case of coda consonants. Cognition 123, 74-79.

Levelt, C. (2011). Consonant Harmony in child language. In: M. van Oostendorp, C. Ewen & K. Rice (eds.). Companion to Phonology. Boston MA: Blackwell, 1691-1716.

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