Behavioral vs. Cognitive Views of Speech Perception and Production

Schlinger Jr., Henry D.
May 2010
Journal of Speech-Language Pathology & Applied Behavior Analysis;May2010, Vol. 5 Issue 2, p150
Academic Journal
Speech perception and language acquisition have been studied primarily by cognitively oriented researchers. Many of these researchers discount a behavioral account despite facts demonstrating that speech in humans will not proceed typically or even at all in the absence of early exposure to a speech environment, and that reinforcing consequences from others as well from infants' own vocalizations shape their vocal repertoires. In the present article, I illustrate a general behavior analytic approach to speech perception and production and contrast it with the more standard cognitive view. I suggest that cognitive accounts are not parsimonious in that they make assumptions about events and processes that are not testable and, thus, not falsifiable. I argue that a behavior analytic approach is not only parsimonious, but it is supported by evidence from both human infants and songbirds, and it is more likely to lead to practical applications.


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