News & Events

Neuroscience Cognitive Science Honors Research Forum

April 28, 2017

Undergraduate Haley Roelike presenting her honors thesis on word learning with 24-, 30- and 36-month-old children. Toddlers learn new words because adults label new things ("Look, there's a rhinoceros!") and because they hear a word while looking at something they already know (“Eat your blueberries.”) while blueberries happen to be sitting on top of ice-cream. Since most toddlers know ice-cream, they infer that the new word applies to the berries. Haley taught toddlers new words in these two different ways and tested their memory of the new words 5 minutes later. Toddlers at all three ages learned the new words best when directly labeled (“Look at the rhinoceros!”). Learning a word in the presence of a word children already know is more challenging because the child must make an inference based on what they do and do not know. This kind of word learning becomes easier for older children. Thanks to all of our wonderful parents who participated with their toddlers!

Psychology Honors Research Forum

April 26, 2017

Undergraduate Courtney Meola presenting the results of our study of word learning at 7.5 months. Courtney gave parents a recording of a story about a girl named Lola to play to their baby daily. After just 2 weeks, infants knew the name “Lola” well enough to detect a new word that came after “Lola” (e.g. "guitar" in the sentence, "Lola’s guitar is awfully loud"). This tells us that infants can use names they know to learn the sounds of new words, an ability that helps them learn language. This is just one example of your child’s amazing ability to learn! Thanks to all of our wonderful parents who participated with their babies!

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