Learning times for large lexicons through cross-situational learning


Blythe R, Smith K & Smith ADM (2010) Learning times for large lexicons through cross-situational learning. Cognitive Science, 34 (4), pp. 620-642.

Cross-situational learning is a mechanism for learning the meaning of words across multiple exposures, despite exposure-by-exposure uncertainty as to a word's true meaning. Doubts have been expressed regarding the plausibility of cross-situational learning as a mechanism for learning human-scale lexicons in reasonable timescales under the levels of referential uncertainty likely to confront real word learners. We demonstrate mathematically that cross-situational learning facilitates the acquisition of large vocabularies despite significant levels of referential uncertainty at each exposure, and we provide estimates of lexicon learning times for several cross-situational learning strategies. This model suggests that cross-situational word learning cannot be ruled out on the basis that it predicts unreasonably long lexicon learning times. More generally, these results indicate that there is no necessary link between the ability to learn individual words rapidly and the capacity to acquire a large lexicon.

World learning; Cross-situational learning; Lexicon learning time; Slow mapping; Fast mapping

Cognitive Science: Volume 34, Issue 4

Publication date31/05/2010