Space aliens and nonwords: Stimuli for investigating the learning of novel word-meaning pairs


We describe a set of pictorial and auditory stimuli that we have developed for use in word learning tasks in which the participant learns pairings of novel auditory sound patterns (names) with pictorial depictions of novel objects (referents). The pictorial referents are drawings of “space aliens,” consisting of images that are variants of 144 different aliens. The auditory names are possible nonwords of English; the stimulus set consists of over 2,500 nonword stimuli recorded in a single voice, with controlled onsets, varying from one to seven syllables in length. The pictorial and nonword stimuli can also serve as independent stimulus sets for purposes other than word learning. The full set of these stimuli may be downloaded


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Correspondence to Prahlad Gupta.

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This work was supported in part by a University of Iowa CIFRE grant to P.G.; by NIH Grant R01 DC01924 to N.M., P.G., and others; and by NIH Grant R01 DC006499 to P.G. The alien pictures were drawn by Chuck Dillon, and the nonword stimuli were recorded by Rebecca Reese.

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Gupta, P., Lipinski, J., Abbs, B. et al. Space aliens and nonwords: Stimuli for investigating the learning of novel word-meaning pairs. Behavior Research Methods, Instruments, & Computers 36, 599–603 (2004).

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  • Serial Recall
  • Head Shape
  • Neighborhood Density
  • Word Learning
  • Nonword Repetition