Our research focuses on describing and understanding the initial steps in infancy that begins the language acquisition process. We study infants from birth up to three years of age to explore the initial biases that humans begin life with and we explore how these biases change or evolve over time through experience and development. Our focus is primarily on how infants perceive speech sounds and learn about words. We also on occasion study adults to explore whether the similar developmental patterns can be observed when learning a second language.
To address these questions we present infants with different types of language and non-language stimuli, usually accompanied by pictures, and record their, looking, reaching, pointing, or heart rate. We examine not only what infants perceive but also how parents talk to their infants and how this affects development of an individual's sound system. We hope to apply our knowledge of typical development to populations of infants at risk for a language delay, in order to provide better information for eventual intervention and remediation.
This work is all made possible through a devoted group of researchers, through generous funding, and through the continued support and participation of parents and infants.