Modeling Multiple Language Learning in a Developmental Cognitive Architecture

Ioanna Giorgi, Bruno Golosio, Massimo Esposito, Angelo Cangelosi, Giovanni L. Masala

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In this work, we model multiple natural language learning in a developmental neuroscience-inspired architecture. The artificial neural network with adaptive behavior exploited for language learning (ANNABELL) model, is a large-scale neural network, however, unlike most deep learning methods that solve natural language processing (NLP) tasks, it does not represent an empirical engineering solution for specific NLP problems; rather, its organization complies with findings from cognitive neuroscience, particularly the multicompartment working memory models. The system is appropriately trained to understand the level of cognitive development required for language acquisition and the robustness achieved in learning simultaneously four languages, using a corpus of text-based exchanges of developmental complexity. The selected languages, Greek, Italian and Albanian, besides English, differ significantly in structure and complexity. Initially, the system was validated in each language alone and was then compared with the open-ended cumulative training, in which languages are learned jointly, prior to querying with random language at random order. We aimed to assess if the model could learn the languages together to the same degree of skill as learning each apart. Moreover, we explored the generalization skill in multilingual context questions and the ability to elaborate a short text of preschool literature. We verified if the system could follow a dialogue coherently and cohesively, keeping track of its previous answers and recalling them in subsequent queries. The results show that the architecture developed broad language processing functionalities, with satisfactory performances in each language trained singularly, maintaining high accuracies when they are acquired cumulatively.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)922-933
Number of pages12
JournalIEEE Transactions on Cognitive and Developmental Systems
Issue number4
Early online date27 Oct 2020
Publication statusPublished - 1 Dec 2021


  • neural network
  • cognitive system
  • natural language understanding
  • multilingual system
  • natural language understanding
  • neural network
  • Cognitive system


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