Infant Language and Learning Lab

All of our studies take only 5-10 minutes and your child will remain seated on your lap the whole time!
Read on for descriptions of our current studies:

Musical Preference
Do infants prefer natural or computer-generated music? Research has shown that infants like natural speech better than synthesized speech, and we want to see if this is true for music too. We are looking for 3 or 6 month olds to participate in this study.

Vocabulary Growth
Do babies who are good at finding words in fluent speech also have larger vocabularies? In prior experiments, we've seen that babies are actually very good at figuring out which sounds go together in an artificial language. But, we haven't seen whether this ability is actually related to real language outcomes. In this study, your 5 or 8 month olds will participate in two mini language learning studies that will assess their ability to find words in fluent speech. We will see how their ability to find words is related to real-life vocabulary growth.

Syllables and Tones
How does language experience change how children find words in fluent speech? In this study, we want to see if your baby's experience with their native language will change what words they find in an artificial language that contains linguistic cues from various real languages. We are looking for 9 or 15 month olds to participate in this study.

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Sound Discrimination
Human vocal cords can produce many different sounds, and these sounds are recruited differently in languages across the world. For instance, while in English we only have one "d" sound, in Hindi, there are actually two different versions: the retroflex "d", and the dental "d". Adult English speakers have lost the ability to discriminate between these two types of "d" because they are not part of the English language. We are interested in understanding how 7 month olds learn to ignore this distinction if they speak a language that does not use both types of "d".

Happy Faces
Without being told, most of us will agree that some music sounds "happy" or "sad." Is this natural, or is it something we learn as children? We're looking for 7 month olds to participate in this study. We'll shw your baby pictures of sad and happy faces while playing different types of music to see if he/she recognizes a connection between the faces and the music.

How do babies learn the words of two languages simultaneously as they grow up? There is research that indicates that babies can effectively learn two different languages growing up if the cue is "gender," as in, the mother speaks entirely in one language and the father speaks entirely in another. In our experiment, we created two artificial languages that have different accents. We want to see if a 12 month old infant can learn that the different accent means that the words are in a different "language."

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Word Confusion
Young infants often confuse similar-sounding words. We are interested in understanding at what age babies from different language backgrounds are able to distinguish between similar-sounding words. We are looking for babies that are 13 to 15 months old or 17 to 19 months old that speak English or a tonal language like Mandarin, Cantonese, Thai, and Vietnamese.

Word Division
The language that you speak might affect the words that you hear! Some languages (like Korean) are forward-going, meaning that speakers will divide the sound "na-so-pay" into the words "naso" and "pay." Other languages, like English, are backwards-going, meaning that speakers will hear "na-so-pay" as "na" and "sopay." Does your 13 month old already hear language like an English speaker? In this experiment, we'll play your baby a made-up language and see how she hears the "words."

Attention Game
How are children able to learn multiple languages with such ease? Research has shown that monolingual children and bilingual children may learn language in different ways, and we want to see if learning multiple languages results in a heightened ability to selectively pay attention to specific details for longer periods of time. We are looking for both monolingual and bilingual children 2 to 7 years old to participate in this study.

Learning to Read
One of the challenges for infants learning a language is learning how to speak sounds in the way that adults do. In this study, we are looking to see how reading interactions might be helpful in that process. We ask parents to read a book to their child in a visit to our lab, and record the utterances the child makes during that reading session to see how hearing an adult produce a word influences the child's pronunciation.

Tracking Moving Objects
As children get older, they get better at controlling their attention and not getting distracted. We are interested in seeing how rapidly this ability to control attention develops. To measure attention, we ask infants to watch a movie in which various objects are moving around the screen. Using an eye-tracker, we monitor how closely infants can follow an object with their gaze.