The Role of Variability: From Playing Tennis to Learning Language
[Source: Science Daily]
Variability is crucially important for learning new skills. Consider learning how to serve in tennis. Should you always practice serving from the exact same location on the court, aiming at exactly the same spot? Although practicing in more variable conditions will be slower at first, it will likely make you a better tennis player at the end. This is because variability leads to better generalization of what is learned.
This principle is found in many domains, including speech perception, grammar, and learning words and categories. For instance, infants will struggle to learn the category ‘dog’ if they are only exposed to Chihuahuas, instead of many different kinds of dogs (Chihuahuas, Poodles and Great Danes).
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