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Constraints to Phonological Statistical Learning in Adults and Infants

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  • Full or part time
    Dr N Gonzalez-Gomez
    Dr Michael Pilling
  • Application Deadline
    No more applications being accepted
  • Competition Funded PhD Project (European/UK Students Only)
    Competition Funded PhD Project (European/UK Students Only)

Project Description

Eligibility: Home UK/EU applicants who must be permanently resident in UK/EU
Closing date: 24.00 (midnight) 12 April 2018
Duration: three years
Start date: September 2018
Value p.a.: Bursary of £14,777 plus fees
Supervisors: Dr Nayeli Gonzalez-Gomez & Dr Michael Pilling

Project description:

There is ample evidence that humans possess powerful statistical learning capacities. This general ability to automatically compute distributional regularities in the input has been found in infants from 2 months of age, adults and, to a certain degree, this capacity has been found even in non-human primates. This general capacity is assumed to be very useful in language acquisition, facilitating the discovery of linguistic regularities, including speech categories, sound patterns, words and rudimentary syntax. However, at present, the mechanisms and the level of generalization of these acquisitions remain largely unknown.

Some of our work in this area explores constraints on infants’ statistical learning, and more precisely, the perceptual level at which phonotactic acquisition operates. The Labial-Coronal bias was used to explore three different hypotheses: a) the “single-feature” hypothesis; b) the “multiple-feature” hypothesis; and c) the “phoneme-based” hypothesis (Gonzalez-Gomez & Nazzi, 2014).
A PhD in this area could directly follow on from our work, to further explore which kinds of computations are performed over the input? Which features/characteristics are salient enough to be taken into account? How general or specific are these capacities? Whether adults and infants (e.g., 10-month-olds) perform computations in a similar way? Do similar kinds of constrains apply to other domains (e.g., visual domain)? The successful applicant will be expected to design, run and analyse experimental data exploring the mechanisms and the level of generalization of statistically-based phonological acquisitions. There is an additional requirement to undertake up to 6 hours undergraduate teaching/week during semesters and to participate in a teaching skills course without further remuneration.

For further information contact Dr Nayeli Gonzalez-Gomez: [Email Address Removed]

Applicants should have (or be expecting) a first class or upper second class honours degree from a Higher Education Institution in the UK or acceptable equivalent qualification in psychology or related cognate discipline (knowledge of research design and statistics is essential). EU Applicants must have a valid IELTS Academic test certificate with an overall minimum score of 7.0 and no score below 6.0 issued since 7th March 2016 by an approved test centre. We are prepared to consider alternative acceptable evidence of English Language ability.

How to apply:
Applications should be sent to [Email Address Removed] and should include an application form
( and a project proposal (max 2000 words) including background, aims and an outline of how those aims will be addressed, applicants can liaise with Dr Nayeli Gonzalez-Gomez when developing their proposal.

Completion of a DBS check is required on enrolment the cost of this will be covered by the University.

Funding Notes

Please note only EU/UK nationals/permanent residents are eligible to apply for this studentship. Please do not apply if you are not a UK/EU national/permanent resident. If you are not sure if you are eligible please contact Research Administrator, [Email Address Removed].

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