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Communication before language -
Socialization of prelinguistic communication
The primary goal of this research is to investigate the emergence of infants' prelinguistic gestural communication in relation to caregivers' social interactional practices and gestures.
We are investigating whether infants' acquisition of gestural communication and how both symbolic and deictic gestures facilitate infants' developing communicative skills.
In longitudinal studies we are beginning to observe infant-caregiver interactions and also to conduct experimental tests designed to assess infants' communicative skills of comprehension and production, which are initially largely gestural. By comparing natural data with the data from experimental tests, we hope to gain further insights into how specific aspects of caregiver input are related to infants' communication skills in development.
Cross-Cultural Socialization Studies
In a related series of studies, we conduct cross-cultural comparisons to investigate differences in caregiver-infant interactions and the extent to which these cultural differences have an effect on infants' prelinguistic communication.
Currently, we systematically quantify and compare social and non-social activities in infants' natural daily lives across cultures for which different parenting styles in general have been reported, such as Yucatec-Mayan infants in Mexico, infants in the Netherlands, and infants in China.
We also investigate developmental changes in social interaction between Yucatec-Mayan infants and their caregivers using elicitation tasks and experimental evidence.
These studies will give insights into the ontogenetic emergence of cross-cultural differences and the broader question of how social interaction experiences may shape infants' development.
The research for this subproject is done in a variety of locations. Natural observations of child-caregiver interaction are done in the homes of Dutch families, experimental studies are done in the Baby Research Center, and the cross-cultural work is done in field sites around the world (e.g., Bolmay, Mexico and Shanghai, China).
Penelope Brown, Max Planck Institute for Psycholinguistics
Tara Callaghan, St. Francis Xavier University
Laura Shneidman, University of Chicago
Connie de Vos, Max Planck Institute for Psycholinguistics