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PRIMIR: A Developmental Framework of Infant Speech Processing Janet F. Werker Department of Psychology University of British Columbia Suzanne Curtin Departments of Linguistics and Psychology University of Pittsburgh Over the past few years, there has been an increasing emphasis on studying the link between infant speech perception and later language acquisition. This research has yielded some seemingly contradictory findings: In some studies infants appear to use phonetic and indexical detail that they fail to use in other studies. In this article we present a new, unified framework for accounting for these divergent findings. PRIMIR (a developmental framework for Processing Rich Information from Multi- dimensional Interactive Representations) assumes there is rich information available in the speech input and that the child picks up and organizes this information along a number of multidimensional interactive planes. Use of this rich information depends on the joint activity of 3 dynamic filters. These filters—the initial biases, the develop- mental level of the child, and requirements of the specific language task the child is facing—work together to differentially direct attention to 1 (or more) plane. In this article we outline the contradictory data that need to be explained, elucidate PRIMIR, including its underlying assumptions and overall architecture, and compare it to ex- isting frameworks. We conclude by presenting core predictions of PRIMIR. Researchonspeechperceptionandwordlearningininfancyhasproducedanumber ofdivergentfindingsthataredifficulttoreconcilewithinanyoftheexistingmodels. In illustration of the complexity of the data generated, it has been known for some timethatinfantsshowcategoricalperceptionandtreatvariableinstancesofthesame phonetic category as equivalent (for reviews, see Jusczyk, 1987; Werker, 1995). LANGUAGE LEARNING AND DEVELOPMENT, 1 (2), 197–234 Copyright © 2005, Lawrence Erlbaum Associates, Inc. Requests for reprints should be sent to Janet F. Werker, The University of British Columbia, Depart- ment of Psychology, 2136 West Mall, Vancouver, BC V6T 1Z4. E-mail: [email protected] Do Not Copy
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They are able to segment words from the speech stream (Jusczyk & Aslin, 1995), recognizefamiliarwords(Halle&deBoysson-Bardies,1996),andrecognizefamil- iar voices (DeCasper & Fifer, 1980). Across the first year of life, these perceptual processes become language-specific, with infants paying particular attention to those values that are important in their native language (Werker & Tees, 1984). At the same time that they are showing attention to category and word-level properties, infants also detect within-phonetic-category differences (Eimas & Miller, 1992; Kuhl, 1983a; McMurray & Aslin, 2005), show attention to contex- tual effects such as speaking rate (Eimas & Miller, 1992), utilize subcategorical in- formation such as coarticulatory cues (Curtin, Mintz, & Byrd, 2001), and utilize stress (Curtin, Mintz, & Christiansen, in press; Johnson & Jusczyk, 2001; Mattys, Jusczyk, Luce, & Morgan, 1999; Thiessen & Saffran, 2003). In counting tasks, in-
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