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Can chunk size differences explain developmental changes in lexical learning?

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Abstract
In three experiments, we investigated Hebb repetition learning (HRL) differences between children and adults, as a function of the type of item (lexical vs. sub-lexical) and the level of item overlap between sequences. In a first experiment, it was shown that when non-repeating and repeating (Hebb) sequences of words were all permutations of the same words, HRL was slower than when the sequences shared no words. This item-overlap effect was observed in both children and adults. In a second experiment, we used syllable sequences and we observed reduced HRL due to item overlap only in children. The findings are explained within a chunking account of the HRL effect on the basis of which we hypothesize that children, compared with adults, chunk syllable sequences in smaller units. By hypothesis, small chunks are more prone to interference from anagram representations included in the filler sequences, potentially explaining the item-overlap effect in children. This hypothesis was tested in a third experiment with adults where we experimentally manipulated the chunk size by embedding pauses in the syllable sequences. Interestingly, we showed that imposing a small chunk size caused adults to show the same behavioral effects as those observed in children. Departing from the analogy between verbal HRL and lexical development, the results are discussed in light of the less-is-more hypothesis of age-related differences in language acquisition.
Keywords
IMMEDIATE SERIAL-RECALL, SHORT-TERM-MEMORY, OLD-AGE, WORD, LANGUAGE, ACQUISITION, ORDER, SEQUENCES, SPAN, REPRESENTATIONS, Hebb repetition learning, language acquisition, lexical development, working memory, chunking

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MLA
Smalle, Eleonore et al. “Can Chunk Size Differences Explain Developmental Changes in Lexical Learning?” FRONTIERS IN PSYCHOLOGY 6 (2016): n. pag. Print.
APA
Smalle, E., Bogaerts, L., Simonis, M., Duyck, W., Page, M. P., Edwards, M. G., & Szmalec, A. (2016). Can chunk size differences explain developmental changes in lexical learning? FRONTIERS IN PSYCHOLOGY, 6.
Chicago author-date
Smalle, Eleonore, Louisa Bogaerts, Morgane Simonis, Wouter Duyck, Michael PA Page, Martin G Edwards, and Arnaud Szmalec. 2016. “Can Chunk Size Differences Explain Developmental Changes in Lexical Learning?” Frontiers in Psychology 6.
Chicago author-date (all authors)
Smalle, Eleonore, Louisa Bogaerts, Morgane Simonis, Wouter Duyck, Michael PA Page, Martin G Edwards, and Arnaud Szmalec. 2016. “Can Chunk Size Differences Explain Developmental Changes in Lexical Learning?” Frontiers in Psychology 6.
Vancouver
1.
Smalle E, Bogaerts L, Simonis M, Duyck W, Page MP, Edwards MG, et al. Can chunk size differences explain developmental changes in lexical learning? FRONTIERS IN PSYCHOLOGY. 2016;6.
IEEE
[1]
E. Smalle et al., “Can chunk size differences explain developmental changes in lexical learning?,” FRONTIERS IN PSYCHOLOGY, vol. 6, 2016.
@article{7146343,
  abstract     = {In three experiments, we investigated Hebb repetition learning (HRL) differences between children and adults, as a function of the type of item (lexical vs. sub-lexical) and the level of item overlap between sequences. In a first experiment, it was shown that when non-repeating and repeating (Hebb) sequences of words were all permutations of the same words, HRL was slower than when the sequences shared no words. This item-overlap effect was observed in both children and adults. In a second experiment, we used syllable sequences and we observed reduced HRL due to item overlap only in children. The findings are explained within a chunking account of the HRL effect on the basis of which we hypothesize that children, compared with adults, chunk syllable sequences in smaller units. By hypothesis, small chunks are more prone to interference from anagram representations included in the filler sequences, potentially explaining the item-overlap effect in children. This hypothesis was tested in a third experiment with adults where we experimentally manipulated the chunk size by embedding pauses in the syllable sequences. Interestingly, we showed that imposing a small chunk size caused adults to show the same behavioral effects as those observed in children. Departing from the analogy between verbal HRL and lexical development, the results are discussed in light of the less-is-more hypothesis of age-related differences in language acquisition.},
  articleno    = {1925},
  author       = {Smalle, Eleonore and Bogaerts, Louisa and Simonis, Morgane and Duyck, Wouter and Page, Michael PA and Edwards, Martin G and Szmalec, Arnaud},
  issn         = {1664-1078},
  journal      = {FRONTIERS IN PSYCHOLOGY},
  keywords     = {IMMEDIATE SERIAL-RECALL,SHORT-TERM-MEMORY,OLD-AGE,WORD,LANGUAGE,ACQUISITION,ORDER,SEQUENCES,SPAN,REPRESENTATIONS,Hebb repetition learning,language acquisition,lexical development,working memory,chunking},
  language     = {eng},
  title        = {Can chunk size differences explain developmental changes in lexical learning?},
  url          = {http://dx.doi.org/10.3389/fpsyg.2015.01925},
  volume       = {6},
  year         = {2016},
}

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