Help Privacy Policy Disclaimer
  Advanced SearchBrowse





People with larger social networks have more robust phonological representations


Lev-Ari,  Shiri
Psychology of Language Department, MPI for Psycholinguistics, Max Planck Society;

External Resource
No external resources are shared
Fulltext (restricted access)
There are currently no full texts shared for your IP range.
Fulltext (public)
There are no public fulltexts stored in PuRe
Supplementary Material (public)
There is no public supplementary material available

Lev-Ari, S. (2015). People with larger social networks have more robust phonological representations. Poster presented at the 21st Annual Conference on Architectures & Mechanisms for Language Processing (AMLaP 2015), Valetta, Malta.

Cite as: https://hdl.handle.net/11858/00-001M-0000-002B-9BFD-A
Exposure to multiple versus a single speaker is known to improve learning of a new phonological variant, presumably because of the greater variability it contains (Bradlow & Bent 2008; Lively, Logan & Pisoni, 1993; Rost & McMurray, 2009). Here we test whether having a larger social network, defined here as the number of people one regularly talks to, similarly improves phonological skills in adults' native language. Furthermore, we examine which phonological skills are improved in order to better understand how variability boosts phonological skills. To test whether having a larger social network improves phonological skills, 60 participants logged in information about their conversations for one typical week. We then calculated for each participant the number of people they talk to, as well as the number of hours they talk, to distinguish between the effects of amount of input and number of sources for the input. Participants were then invited to the lab for phonological and cognitive tests. To test whether having a larger social network improves the robustness of phonological representations, participants transcribed nonwords presented in noise. To test whether having a larger social network improves the ability to identify and isolate voices, participants followed instructions from one of two talkers talking simultaneously (Coordinate Response Measure; Johnsrude et al., 2013). Lastly, to test the effect on talker normalization, and in particular, the efficiency of switching between speakers, we measured the degree to which performance slowed down in multi-speaker compared to the single-speaker blocks in a phoneme monitoring task. Additionally, to ensure that effects of social network size are not due to cognitive differences between people who interact with few versus many people, participants' WM, Auditory Short Term Memory, selective attention, and task switching abilities were measured. Results revealed that social network size does not correlate with any of the cognitive measures (all r's<|0.08|). Social network size also did not correlate with amount of input (r=0.13). This indicates that any effect of social network size cannot be due to cognitive differences or amount of input. Nevertheless, to be conservative, we entered performance on the cognitive tasks and amount of input as correlates into the mixed model analysis. Results showed that participants with larger social networks are better at perception of speech in noise. Results did not show any improvement in talker isolation or normalization. Additionally, better Auditory STM predicted better perception of speech in noise, and higher WM predicted better talker normalization. To conclude, this study shows that individuals who regularly talk to more people have more robust phonological representations, as reflected by better perception of speech in noise. This suggests that variability in input can boost phonological skills even in one's native language. While we cannot rule out completely non-causal explanations of the effect, we do show that in the real world, people with larger social networks have more robust phonological skills, and that this difference is not due to differences in cognitive abilities. This shows that people's life-style can influence their linguistic abilities. Other studies we are currently conducting show that this is true for other linguistic levels as well (e.g., semantic).