Learning the Phonotactics of Button Pushing: Consolidation, Retention, and Syllable Structure

Adnan Rebei, Nathaniel D. Anderson, Gary S. Dell

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Every language has unique phonotactics, general rules about how phonemes combine to make syllables. We know that people can implicitly learn new phonotactic rules in the laboratory, and these rules then affect their speech errors. Some types of rules, however, require a consolidation period before they influence speech errors. Two experiments are reported that replicate a recent study that transferred this finding to a nonspeech domain. In this study and our replications, the production of a consonant-vowelconsonant syllable is replaced by pushing three buttons-a finger, a thumb, and another finger. These button-push studies reproduce prior findings in the speech domain about consolidation and the retention of phonotactic learning but also point to some differences, suggesting that the massive amount of experience that adults have producing syllables leads to unique effects.


  • Consolidation
  • Implicit learning
  • Phonotactic learning
  • Speech errors
  • Syllable structure

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Language and Linguistics
  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
  • Linguistics and Language


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