Undergraduate Poster Session
Thompson Library, 11th Floor, Campus Reading Room
The poster session was an opportunity for undergraduate students to share their research with the Cognitive Science community at Ohio State and interact with faculty and students from across the University who are also working on questions related to human cognition, including learning, memory, perception, language, and decision making, from behavioral, applied, computational modeling, and cognitive neuroscience perspectives.
Dr. Nicholas Turk-Browne of Yale University presented:
Rethinking memory systems for statistical learning
Hosted by the Psychology Department Cognitive Area
Abstract: The phonetics/phonology research tradition of the past five or six decades tended to treat languages as mostly invariant systems that can be subjected to description and analysis (e.g., the syllable structure of Language X, the acoustics of sibilants in Language Y, etc.). Recent years, however, have seen an increased move towards recognizing variation between individual language users, even within the same speech community. In this talk, I argue that we need to broaden our focus from languages as undifferentiated, invariant systems to include the communities that speak these languages, as well as the individual members of these communities. Such a broader focus will result in a fuller understanding of the human capacity for language.
I review three studies from the Michigan Phonetics/Phonology Laboratory showing how a focus on average community patterns of variation can result in missing important generalisations: (i) post-nasal devoicing in Tswana, (ii) plosive devoicing/tonogenesis in Afrikaans, and (iii) anticipatory nasalization in Afrikaans. Based on these results, I propose extending the classic generative notion of “grammatical competence” to a broader concept of “linguistic competence”. This broader linguistic competence encompasses classic grammatical competence, but also all other aspects of an individual’s cognitive and social abilities that contribute towards how that individual performs linguistically. Since individuals can differ significantly in terms of most of the components that contribute to this broader linguistic competence, individual differences are expected rather than surprising.