The Picture Guessing Game: The Role of Feedback in Active Artificial Language Learning

AbstractLanguage is acquired within a complex, interactive environment. A key question for cognitive science is whether and how different types of environmental cues might affect the learning and processing of language. In this paper, we explore the role of feedback as a possible cue in a novel active artificial language learning task: The Picture Guessing Game. Subjects were instructed to guess which scene correctly displayed the meaning of a spoken sequence of unfamiliar monosyllabic words. After their response, either positive, negative, or no feedback was provided. The prediction was that feedback would help the subject to eventually learn the vocabulary, syntax, and semantics of the artificial language. The results indeed showed that feedback (both positive and negative) is beneficial and necessary to attain a certain level of learning. Interestingly, the data showed that positive feedback may be particularly helpful for the learner, promoting more in-depth learning of the artificial language.

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