Previous research in cross-situational statistical learning has established that people can track statistical information across streams in order to map nonce words to their referent objects (Yu and Smith, 2007). Under some circumstances, learners are able to acquire multiple mappings for a single object (e.g., Yurovsky and Yu, 2008). Here we explore whether having a contextual cue associated with a new mapping may facilitate this process, or the conscious awareness of learning. Using a cross-situational statistical learning paradigm, in which learners could form both 1:1 and 2:1 word-object mappings over two phases of learning, we collected confidence ratings during familiarization and provided a retrospective test to gage learning. In Condition 1, there were no contextual cues to indicate a change in mappings (baseline). Conditions 2 and 3 added contextual cues (a change in speaker voice or explicit instructions, respectively) to the second familiarization phase to determine their effects on the trajectory of learning. While contextual cues did not facilitate acquisition of 2:1 mappings as assessed by retrospective measures, confidence ratings for these mappings were significantly higher in contextual cue conditions compared to the baseline condition with no cues. These results suggest that contextual cues corresponding to changes in the input may influence the conscious awareness of learning.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes