Artificial grammar learning by 1-year-olds leads to specific and abstract knowledge

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

368 Scopus citations


Four experiments used the head-turn preference procedure to assess whether infants could extract and remember information from auditory strings produced by a miniature artificial grammar. In all four experiments, infants generalized to new structure by discriminating new grammatical strings from ungrammatical ones after less than 2 min exposure to the grammar. Infants acquired specific information about the grammar as demonstrated by the ability to discriminate new grammatical strings from those with illegal endpoints (Experiment 1). Infants also discriminated new grammatical strings from those with string-internal pairwise violations (Experiments 2 and 3). Infants in Experiment 4 abstracted beyond specific word order as demonstrated by the ability to discriminate new strings produced by their training grammar from strings produced by another grammar despite a change in vocabulary between training and test. We discuss the implications of these findings for the study of language acquisition.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)109-135
Number of pages27
Issue number2
StatePublished - Mar 1 1999



  • Artificial learning
  • Grammar
  • Infants

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
  • Language and Linguistics
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Linguistics and Language
  • Cognitive Neuroscience

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