To acquire the words of their language, learners face the challenge of tracking regularities at multiple levels of abstraction from continuous speech. In the current study, we examined adults’ ability to track two types of regularities from a continuous artificial speech stream: the individual words in the speech stream (token level information), and a phonotactic pattern shared by a subset of those words (type level information). We additionally manipulated exposure time to the language to examine the relationship between the acquisition of these two regularities. Using a ratings test procedure, we found that adults can extract both the words in the language and their phonotactic patterns from continuous speech in as little as 3.5 minutes of listening time. Results from a 2AFC testing method provide converging evidence that adults rapidly learn both words and their phonotactic patterns. Together, the findings suggest that adults are capable of concurrently tracking regularities at multiple levels of abstraction from brief exposures to a continuous stream of speech.
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