Publications
Displaying 1 - 20 of 37
  • Brown, P., & Casillas, M. (in press). Childrearing through social interaction on Rossel Island, PNG. In A. J. Fentiman, & M. Goody (Eds.), Esther Goody revisited: Exploring the legacy of an original inter-disciplinarian. New York, NY: Berghahn.

    Abstract

    This paper describes childrearing practices, beliefs, and attitudes in a Papua New Guinea society - that of the Rossel Islanders - and shows, through analysis of interactions with infants and small children, how these are instantiated in everyday life. Drawing on data collected during research on Rossel Island spanning 14 years, including parental interviews, videotaped naturally-occurring interactions with babies and children, structured elicitations, and time sampling of activities involving children, we investigate the daily lives of Rossel children and consider how these influence their development of prosociality and their socialization into culturally shaped roles and characters. We relate the findings to other work on child socialization in small-scale societies, with special attention to the Tzeltal Maya of southern Mexico, and argue that detailed attention to the local socio-cultural contexts of childrearing is an important antidote to the tendency to emphasize universals of child development.
  • Casillas, M., & Hilbrink, E. (in press). Communicative act development. In K. P. Schneider, & E. Ifantidou (Eds.), Developmental and Clinical Pragmatics. DE GRUYTER MOUTON.

    Abstract

    How do children learn to map linguistic forms onto their intended meanings? This chapter begins with an introduction to some theoretical and analytical tools used to study communicative acts. It then turns to communicative act development in spoken and signed language acquisition, including both the early scaffolding and production of communicative acts (both non-verbal and verbal) as well as their later links to linguistic development and Theory of Mind. The chapter wraps up by linking research on communicative act development to the acquisition of conversational skills, cross-linguistic and individual differences in communicative experience during development, and human evolution. Along the way, it also poses a few open questions for future research in this domain.
  • Casillas, M., Rafiee, A., & Majid, A. (in press). Iranian herbalists, but not cooks, are better at naming odors than laypeople. Cognitive Science.
  • Dingemanse, M. (in press). Resource-rationality beyond individual minds: the case of interactive language use. Behavioural and Brain Sciences.

    Abstract

    Resource-rational approaches offer much promise for understanding human cognition, especially if they can reach beyond the confines of individual minds. Language allows people to transcend individual resource limitations by augmenting computation and enabling distributed cognition. Interactive language use, an environment where social rational agents routinely deal with resource constraints together, offers a natural laboratory to test resource-rationality in the wild.
  • Parhammer*, S. I., Ebersberg*, M., Tippmann*, J., Stärk*, K., Opitz, A., Hinger, B., & Rossi, S. (in press). The influence of distraction on speech processing: How selective is selective attention? In Proceedings of Interspeech 2019: The 20th Annual Conference of the International Speech Communication Association.

    Abstract

    -* indicates shared first authorship -
  • Van Leeuwen, T. M., Van Petersen, E., Burghoorn, F., Dingemanse, M., & Van Lier, R. (in press). Autistic traits in synaesthesia: Atypical sensory sensitivity and enhanced perception of details. Philosophical Transactions: Biological Sciences.

    Abstract

    In synaesthetes specific sensory stimuli (e.g., black letters) elicit additional experiences (e.g. colour). Synaesthesia is highly prevalent among individuals with autism spectrum disorder but the mechanisms of this co-occurrence are not clear. We hypothesized autism and synaesthesia share atypical sensory sensitivity and perception. We assessed autistic traits, sensory sensitivity, and visual perception in two synaesthete populations. In Study 1, synaesthetes (N=79, of different types) scored higher than non-synaesthetes (N=76) on the Attention-to-detail and Social skills subscales of the Autism Spectrum Quotient indexing autistic traits, and on the Glasgow Sensory Questionnaire indexing sensory hypersensitivity and hyposensitivity which frequently occur in autism. Synaesthetes performed two local/global visual tasks because individuals with autism typically show a bias toward detail processing. In synaesthetes, elevated motion coherence thresholds suggested reduced global motion perception and higher accuracy on an embedded figures task suggested enhanced local perception. In Study 2 sequence-space synaesthetes (N=18) completed the same tasks. Questionnaire and embedded figures results qualitatively resembled Study 1 results but no significant group differences with non-synaesthetes (N=20) were obtained. Unexpectedly, sequence-space synaesthetes had reduced motion coherence thresholds. Altogether, our studies suggest atypical sensory sensitivity and a bias towards detail processing are shared features of synaesthesia and autism spectrum disorder.
  • Akita, K., & Dingemanse, M. (2019). Ideophones (Mimetics, Expressives). In Oxford Research Encyclopedia for Linguistics. Oxford: Oxford University Press. doi:10.1093/acrefore/9780199384655.013.477.

    Abstract

    Ideophones, also termed “mimetics” or “expressives,” are marked words that depict sensory imagery. They are found in many of the world’s languages, and sizable lexical classes of ideophones are particularly well-documented in languages of Asia, Africa, and the Americas. Ideophones are not limited to onomatopoeia like meow and smack, but cover a wide range of sensory domains, such as manner of motion (e.g., plisti plasta ‘splish-splash’ in Basque), texture (e.g., tsaklii ‘rough’ in Ewe), and psychological states (e.g., wakuwaku ‘excited’ in Japanese). Across languages, ideophones stand out as marked words due to special phonotactics, expressive morphology including certain types of reduplication, and relative syntactic independence, in addition to production features like prosodic foregrounding and common co-occurrence with iconic gestures. Three intertwined issues have been repeatedly debated in the century-long literature on ideophones. (a) Definition: Isolated descriptive traditions and cross-linguistic variation have sometimes obscured a typologically unified view of ideophones, but recent advances show the promise of a prototype definition of ideophones as conventionalised depictions in speech, with room for language-specific nuances. (b) Integration: The variable integration of ideophones across linguistic levels reveals an interaction between expressiveness and grammatical integration, and has important implications for how to conceive of dependencies between linguistic systems. (c) Iconicity: Ideophones form a natural laboratory for the study of iconic form-meaning associations in natural languages, and converging evidence from corpus and experimental studies suggests important developmental, evolutionary, and communicative advantages of ideophones.
  • Bergelson*, E., Casillas*, M., Soderstrom, M., Seidl, A., Warlaumont, A. S., & Amatuni, A. (2019). What Do North American Babies Hear? A large-scale cross-corpus analysis. Developmental Science, 22(1): e12724. doi:10.1111/desc.12724.

    Abstract

    - * indicates joint first authorship - Abstract: A range of demographic variables influence how much speech young children hear. However, because studies have used vastly different sampling methods, quantitative comparison of interlocking demographic effects has been nearly impossible, across or within studies. We harnessed a unique collection of existing naturalistic, day-long recordings from 61 homes across four North American cities to examine language input as a function of age, gender, and maternal education. We analyzed adult speech heard by 3- to 20-month-olds who wore audio recorders for an entire day. We annotated speaker gender and speech register (child-directed or adult-directed) for 10,861 utterances from female and male adults in these recordings. Examining age, gender, and maternal education collectively in this ecologically-valid dataset, we find several key results. First, the speaker gender imbalance in the input is striking: children heard 2--3x more speech from females than males. Second, children in higher-maternal-education homes heard more child-directed speech than those in lower-maternal education homes. Finally, our analyses revealed a previously unreported effect: the proportion of child-directed speech in the input increases with age, due to a decrease in adult-directed speech with age. This large-scale analysis is an important step forward in collectively examining demographic variables that influence early development, made possible by pooled, comparable, day-long recordings of children's language environments. The audio recordings, annotations, and annotation software are readily available for re-use and re-analysis by other researchers.

    Supplementary material

    desc12724-sup-0001-supinfo.pdf
  • Casillas, M., & Cristia, A. (2019). A step-by-step guide to collecting and analyzing long-format speech environment (LFSE) recordings. Collabra, 5(1): 24. doi:10.1525/collabra.209.

    Abstract

    Recent years have seen rapid technological development of devices that can record communicative behavior as participants go about daily life. This paper is intended as an end-to-end methodological guidebook for potential users of these technologies, including researchers who want to study children’s or adults’ communicative behavior in everyday contexts. We explain how long-format speech environment (LFSE) recordings provide a unique view on language use and how they can be used to complement other measures at the individual and group level. We aim to help potential users of these technologies make informed decisions regarding research design, hardware, software, and archiving. We also provide information regarding ethics and implementation, issues that are difficult to navigate for those new to this technology, and on which little or no resources are available. This guidebook offers a concise summary of information for new users and points to sources of more detailed information for more advanced users. Links to discussion groups and community-augmented databases are also provided to help readers stay up-to-date on the latest developments.
  • Cattani, A., Floccia, C., Kidd, E., Pettenati, P., Onofrio, D., & Volterra, V. (2019). Gestures and words in naming: Evidence from crosslinguistic and crosscultural comparison. Language Learning. Advance online publication. doi:10.1111/lang.12346.

    Abstract

    We report on an analysis of spontaneous gesture production in 2‐year‐old children who come from three countries (Italy, United Kingdom, Australia) and who speak two languages (Italian, English), in an attempt to tease apart the influence of language and culture when comparing children from different cultural and linguistic environments. Eighty‐seven monolingual children aged 24–30 months completed an experimental task measuring their comprehension and production of nouns and predicates. The Italian children scored significantly higher than the other groups on all lexical measures. With regard to gestures, British children produced significantly fewer pointing and speech combinations compared to Italian and Australian children, who did not differ from each other. In contrast, Italian children produced significantly more representational gestures than the other two groups. We conclude that spoken language development is primarily influenced by the input language over gesture production, whereas the combination of cultural and language environments affects gesture production.
  • Cuskley, C., Dingemanse, M., Kirby, S., & van Leeuwen, T. M. (2019). Cross-modal associations and synaesthesia: Categorical perception and structure in vowel-colour mappings in a large online sample. Behaviour Research Methods. Advance online publication. doi:10.3758/s13428-019-01203-7.

    Abstract

    We report associations between vowel sounds, graphemes, and colours collected online from over 1000 Dutch speakers. We provide open materials including a Python implementation of the structure measure, and code for a single page web application to run simple cross-modal tasks. We also provide a full dataset of colour-vowel associations from 1164 participants, including over 200 synaesthetes identified using consistency measures. Our analysis reveals salient patterns in cross-modal associations, and introduces a novel measure of isomorphism in cross-modal mappings. We find that while acoustic features of vowels significantly predict certain mappings (replicating prior work), both vowel phoneme category and grapheme category are even better predictors of colour choice. Phoneme category is the best predictor of colour choice overall, pointing to the importance of phonological representations in addition to acoustic cues. Generally, high/front vowels are lighter, more green, and more yellow than low/back vowels. Synaesthetes respond more strongly on some dimensions, choosing lighter and more yellow colours for high and mid front vowels than non-synaesthetes. We also present a novel measure of cross-modal mappings adapted from ecology, which uses a simulated distribution of mappings to measure the extent to which participants' actual mappings are structured isomorphically across modalities. Synaesthetes have mappings that tend to be more structured than non-synaesthetes, and more consistent colour choices across trials correlate with higher structure scores. Nevertheless, the large majority (~70%) of participants produce structured mappings, indicating that the capacity to make isomorphically structured mappings across distinct modalities is shared to a large extent, even if the exact nature of mappings varies across individuals. Overall, this novel structure measure suggests a distribution of structured cross-modal association in the population, with synaesthetes on one extreme and participants with unstructured associations on the other.
  • Frost, R. L. A., Monaghan, P., & Christiansen, M. H. (2019). Mark my words: High frequency marker words impact early stages of language learning. Journal of Experimental Psychology: Learning, Memory, and Cognition. Advance online publication. doi:10.1037/xlm0000683.

    Abstract

    High frequency words have been suggested to benefit both speech segmentation and grammatical categorization of the words around them. Despite utilizing similar information, these tasks are usually investigated separately in studies examining learning. We determined whether including high frequency words in continuous speech could support categorization when words are being segmented for the first time. We familiarized learners with continuous artificial speech comprising repetitions of target words, which were preceded by high-frequency marker words. Crucially, marker words distinguished targets into 2 distributionally defined categories. We measured learning with segmentation and categorization tests and compared performance against a control group that heard the artificial speech without these marker words (i.e., just the targets, with no cues for categorization). Participants segmented the target words from speech in both conditions, but critically when the marker words were present, they influenced acquisition of word-referent mappings in a subsequent transfer task, with participants demonstrating better early learning for mappings that were consistent (rather than inconsistent) with the distributional categories. We propose that high-frequency words may assist early grammatical categorization, while speech segmentation is still being learned.

    Supplementary material

    Supplemental Material
  • Quinn, S., & Kidd, E. (2019). Symbolic play promotes non‐verbal communicative exchange in infant–caregiver dyads. British Journal of Developmental Psychology, 37(1), 33-50. doi:10.1111/bjdp.12251.

    Abstract

    Symbolic play has long been considered a fertile context for communicative development (Bruner, 1983, Child's talk: Learning to use language, Oxford University Press, Oxford; Vygotsky, 1962, Thought and language, MIT Press, Cambridge, MA; Vygotsky, 1978, Mind in society: The development of higher psychological processes. Harvard University Press, Cambridge, MA). In the current study, we examined caregiver–infant interaction during symbolic play and compared it to interaction in a comparable but non‐symbolic context (i.e., ‘functional’ play). Fifty‐four (N = 54) caregivers and their 18‐month‐old infants were observed engaging in 20 min of play (symbolic, functional). Play interactions were coded and compared across play conditions for joint attention (JA) and gesture use. Compared with functional play, symbolic play was characterized by greater frequency and duration of JA and greater gesture use, particularly the use of iconic gestures with an object in hand. The results suggest that symbolic play provides a rich context for the exchange and negotiation of meaning, and thus may contribute to the development of important skills underlying communicative development.
  • Tsoi, E. Y. L., Yang, W., Chan, A. W. S., & Kidd, E. (2019). Mandarin-English speaking bilingual and Mandarin speaking monolingual children’s comprehension of relative clauses. Applied Psycholinguistics. Advance online publication. doi:10.1017/S0142716419000079.

    Abstract

    The current study investigated the comprehension of subject and object relative clauses (RCs) in bilingual Mandarin-English children (N = 55, Mage = 7;5, SD = 1;8) and language-matched monolingual Mandarin-speaking children (N = 59, Mage = 5;4, SD = 0;7). The children completed a referent selection task that tested their comprehension of subject and object RCs, and standardised assessments of vocabulary knowledge. Results showed a very similar pattern of responding in both groups. In comparison to past studies of Cantonese, the bilingual and monolingual children both showed a significant subject-over-object RC advantage. An error analysis suggested that the children’s difficulty with object RCs reflected the tendency to interpret the sentential subject as the head noun. A subsequent corpus analysis suggested that children’s difficulty with object RCs may be in part due to distributional information favouring subject RC analyses. Individual differences analyses suggested cross-linguistic transfer from English to Mandarin in the bilingual children at the individual but not the group level, with the results indicating that comparative English-dominance makes children vulnerable to error
  • Van den Boomen, C., Fahrenfort, J. J., Snijders, T. M., & Kemner, C. (2019). Slow segmentation of faces in Autism Spectrum Disorder. Neuropsychologia, 127, 1-8. doi:10.1016/j.neuropsychologia.2019.02.005.

    Abstract

    Atypical visual segmentation, affecting object perception, might contribute to face processing problems in Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD). The current study investigated impairments in visual segmentation of faces in ASD. Thirty participants (ASD: 16; Control: 14) viewed texture-defined faces, houses, and homogeneous images, while electroencephalographic and behavioral responses were recorded. The ASD group showed slower face-segmentation related brain activity and longer segmentation reaction times than the control group, but no difference in house-segmentation related activity or behavioral performance. Furthermore, individual differences in face-segmentation but not house-segmentation correlated with score on the Autism Quotient. Segmentation is thus selectively impaired for faces in ASD, and relates to the degree of ASD traits. Face segmentation relates to recurrent connectivity from the fusiform face area (FFA) to the visual cortex. These findings thus suggest that atypical connectivity from the FFA might contribute to delayed face processing in ASD.

    Supplementary material

    Supplementary material
  • Bergmann, C., & Cristia, A. (2018). Environmental influences on infants’ native vowel discrimination: The case of talker number in daily life. Infancy, 23(4), 484-501. doi:10.1111/infa.12232.

    Abstract

    Both quality and quantity of speech from the primary caregiver have been found to impact language development. A third aspect of the input has been largely ignored: the number of talkers who provide input. Some infants spend most of their waking time with only one person; others hear many different talkers. Even if the very same words are spoken the same number of times, the pronunciations can be more variable when several talkers pronounce them. Is language acquisition affected by the number of people who provide input? To shed light on the possible link between how many people provide input in daily life and infants’ native vowel discrimination, three age groups were tested: 4-month-olds (before attunement to native vowels), 6-month-olds (at the cusp of native vowel attunement) and 12-month-olds (well attuned to the native vowel system). No relationship was found between talker number and native vowel discrimination skills in 4- and 6-month-olds, who are overall able to discriminate the vowel contrast. At 12 months, we observe a small positive relationship, but further analyses reveal that the data are also compatible with the null hypothesis of no relationship. Implications in the context of infant language acquisition and cognitive development are discussed.
  • Bergmann, C., Tsuji, S., Piccinini, P. E., Lewis, M. L., Braginsky, M. B., Frank, M. C., & Cristia, A. (2018). Promoting replicability in developmental research through meta-analyses: Insights from language acquisition research. Child Development, 89(6), 1996-2009. doi:10.1111/cdev.13079.

    Abstract

    Previous work suggests key factors for replicability, a necessary feature for theory building, include statistical power and appropriate research planning. These factors are examined by analyzing a collection of 12 standardized meta-analyses on language development between birth and 5 years. With a median effect size of Cohen's d= 0.45 and typical sample size of 18 participants, most research is underpowered (range: 6%-99%; median 44%); and calculating power based on seminal publications is not a suitable strategy. Method choice can be improved, as shown in analyses on exclusion rates and effect size as a function of method. The article ends with a discussion on how to increase replicability in both language acquisition studies specifically and developmental research more generally.
  • Bögels, S., Casillas, M., & Levinson, S. C. (2018). Planning versus comprehension in turn-taking: Fast responders show reduced anticipatory processing of the question. Neuropsychologia, 109, 295-310. doi:10.1016/j.neuropsychologia.2017.12.028.

    Abstract

    Rapid response latencies in conversation suggest that responders start planning before the ongoing turn is finished. Indeed, an earlier EEG study suggests that listeners start planning their responses to questions as soon as they can (Bögels, S., Magyari, L., & Levinson, S. C. (2015). Neural signatures of response planning occur midway through an incoming question in conversation. Scientific Reports, 5, 12881). The present study aimed to (1) replicate this early planning effect and (2) investigate whether such early response planning incurs a cost on participants’ concurrent comprehension of the ongoing turn. During the experiment participants answered questions from a confederate partner. To address aim (1), the questions were designed such that response planning could start either early or late in the turn. Our results largely replicate Bögels et al. (2015) showing a large positive ERP effect and an oscillatory alpha/beta reduction right after participants could have first started planning their verbal response, again suggesting an early start of response planning. To address aim (2), the confederate's questions also contained either an expected word or an unexpected one to elicit a differential N400 effect, either before or after the start of response planning. We hypothesized an attenuated N400 effect after response planning had started. In contrast, the N400 effects before and after planning did not differ. There was, however, a positive correlation between participants' response time and their N400 effect size after planning had started; quick responders showed a smaller N400 effect, suggesting reduced attention to comprehension and possibly reduced anticipatory processing. We conclude that early response planning can indeed impact comprehension processing.

    Supplementary material

    mmc1.pdf
  • Cristia, A., Ganesh, S., Casillas, M., & Ganapathy, S. (2018). Talker diarization in the wild: The case of child-centered daylong audio-recordings. In Proceedings of Interspeech 2018 (pp. 2583-2587). doi:10.21437/Interspeech.2018-2078.

    Abstract

    Speaker diarization (answering 'who spoke when') is a widely researched subject within speech technology. Numerous experiments have been run on datasets built from broadcast news, meeting data, and call centers—the task sometimes appears close to being solved. Much less work has begun to tackle the hardest diarization task of all: spontaneous conversations in real-world settings. Such diarization would be particularly useful for studies of language acquisition, where researchers investigate the speech children produce and hear in their daily lives. In this paper, we study audio gathered with a recorder worn by small children as they went about their normal days. As a result, each child was exposed to different acoustic environments with a multitude of background noises and a varying number of adults and peers. The inconsistency of speech and noise within and across samples poses a challenging task for speaker diarization systems, which we tackled via retraining and data augmentation techniques. We further studied sources of structured variation across raw audio files, including the impact of speaker type distribution, proportion of speech from children, and child age on diarization performance. We discuss the extent to which these findings might generalize to other samples of speech in the wild.
  • Floccia, C., Sambrook, T. D., Delle Luche, C., Kwok, R., Goslin, J., White, L., Cattani, A., Sullivan, E., Abbot-Smith, K., Krott, A., Mills, D., Rowland, C. F., Gervain, J., & Plunkett, K. (2018). Vocabulary of 2-year-olds learning learning English and an additional language: Norms and effects of linguistic distance. Hoboken: Wiley.

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