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A computational model to investigate assumptions in the headturn preference procedure

Bergmann, C., Ten Bosch, L., Fikkert, P., & Boves, L. (2013). A computational model to investigate assumptions in the headturn preference procedure. Frontiers in Psychology, 4: 676. doi:10.3389/fpsyg.2013.00676.
In this paper we use a computational model to investigate four assumptions that are tacitly present in interpreting the results of studies on infants' speech processing abilities using the Headturn Preference Procedure (HPP): (1) behavioral differences originate in different processing; (2) processing involves some form of recognition; (3) words are segmented from connected speech; and (4) differences between infants should not affect overall results. In addition, we investigate the impact of two potentially important aspects in the design and execution of the experiments: (a) the specific voices used in the two parts on HPP experiments (familiarization and test) and (b) the experimenter's criterion for what is a sufficient headturn angle. The model is designed to be maximize cognitive plausibility. It takes real speech as input, and it contains a module that converts the output of internal speech processing and recognition into headturns that can yield real-time listening preference measurements. Internal processing is based on distributed episodic representations in combination with a matching procedure based on the assumptions that complex episodes can be decomposed as positive weighted sums of simpler constituents. Model simulations show that the first assumptions hold under two different definitions of recognition. However, explicit segmentation is not necessary to simulate the behaviors observed in infant studies. Differences in attention span between infants can affect the outcomes of an experiment. The same holds for the experimenter's decision criterion. The speakers used in experiments affect outcomes in complex ways that require further investigation. The paper ends with recommendations for future studies using the HPP. - See more at:
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