Cross-situational learning of object-word mapping using Neural Modeling Fields

Jose F. Fontanari, Vadim Tikhanoff, Angelo Cangelosi, Roman Ilin, Leonid I. Perlovsky

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The issue of how children learn the meaning of words is fundamental to developmental psychology. The recent attempts to develop or evolve efficient communication protocols among interacting robots or virtual agents have brought that issue to a central place in more applied research fields, such as computational linguistics and neural networks, as well. An attractive approach to learning an object-word mapping is the so-called cross-situational learning. This learning scenario is based on the intuitive notion that a learner can determine the meaning of a word by finding something in common across all observed uses of that word. Here we show how the deterministic Neural Modeling Fields (NMF) categorization mechanism can be used by the learner as an efficient algorithm to infer the correct object-word mapping. To achieve that we first reduce the original on-line learning problem to a batch learning problem where the inputs to the NMF mechanism are all possible object-word associations that could be inferred from the cross-situational learning scenario. Since many of those associations are incorrect, they are considered as clutter or noise and discarded automatically by a clutter detector model included in our NMF implementation. With these two key ingredients--batch learning and clutter detection--the NMF mechanism was capable to infer perfectly the correct object-word mapping.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)579-585
JournalNeural Networks
Issue number5-6
Publication statusPublished - 2009


  • Cross-situational learning
  • Language acquisition
  • Clustering algorithms
  • Neural Modeling Fields


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