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B3 - Modifying representations by manipulations of the learning environment

Project B3 addresses the question of how linguistic representations can be modified by specific intervention approaches from speech and language therapy and/or instructed second language learning. Emergentist approaches assume that changes in language abilities can be brought about through targeted manipulations of the learning environment. One possibility is to increase the intensity and quality of the input (e.g., input optimization in speech and language therapy, input floods in second language learning). Using these implicit methods, teachers or therapists provide optimally structured input in a way that maximizes learners’ chances for noticing and processing relevant target structures. In contrast, explicit, meta-linguistic approaches require conscious engagement with linguistic regularities. Behavioral studies with learners of different ages will investigate whether and how parameters of the learning environment (e.g., frequency of target forms, contextual factors) can support the acquisition of stable lexical representations and to what extent learning conditions (e.g., presence of Developmental Language Disorders) and the target structure itself modify potential effects.

Possible topics include:

  • Learning experiments (including EEG methods) with children using phonological stimulation, testing the optimal form of input manipulations.
  • The effects of enriched input on the symptoms of speech sound disorders.
  • The modifiability of pathological word form representations by input optimization.
  • Differential impact of implicit and explicit intervention methods depending on learning conditions.