Publications

Displaying 1 - 100 of 154
  • Garrido Rodriguez, G., Norcliffe, E., Brown, P., Huettig, F., & Levinson, S. C. (2023). Anticipatory processing in a verb-initial Mayan language: Eye-tracking evidence during sentence comprehension in Tseltal. Cognitive Science, 47(1): e13292. doi:10.1111/cogs.13219.

    Abstract

    We present a visual world eye-tracking study on Tseltal (a Mayan language) and investigate whether verbal information can be used to anticipate an upcoming referent. Basic word order in transitive sentences in Tseltal is Verb-Object-Subject (VOS). The verb is usually encountered first, making argument structure and syntactic information available at the outset, which should facilitate anticipation of the post-verbal arguments. Tseltal speakers listened to verb-initial sentences with either an object-predictive verb (e.g., ‘eat’) or a general verb (e.g., ‘look for’) (e.g., “Ya slo’/sle ta stukel on te kereme”, Is eating/is looking (for) by himself the avocado the boy/ “The boy is eating/is looking (for) an avocado by himself”) while seeing a visual display showing one potential referent (e.g., avocado) and three distractors (e.g., bag, toy car, coffee grinder). We manipulated verb type (predictive vs. general) and recorded participants' eye-movements while they listened and inspected the visual scene. Participants’ fixations to the target referent were analysed using multilevel logistic regression models. Shortly after hearing the predictive verb, participants fixated the target object before it was mentioned. In contrast, when the verb was general, fixations to the target only started to increase once the object was heard. Our results suggest that Tseltal hearers pre-activate semantic features of the grammatical object prior to its linguistic expression. This provides evidence from a verb-initial language for online incremental semantic interpretation and anticipatory processing during language comprehension. These processes are comparable to the ones identified in subject-initial languages, which is consistent with the notion that different languages follow similar universal processing principles.
  • Bergmann, C., Dimitrova, N., Alaslani, K., Almohammadi, A., Alroqi, H., Aussems, S., Barokova, M., Davies, C., Gonzalez-Gomez, N., Gibson, S. P., Havron, N., Horowitz-Kraus, T., Kanero, J., Kartushina, N., Keller, C., Mayor, J., Mundry, R., Shinskey, J., & Mani, N. (2022). Young children’s screen time during the first COVID-19 lockdown in 12 countries. Scientific Reports, 12: 2015. doi:10.1038/s41598-022-05840-5.

    Abstract

    Older children with online schooling requirements, unsurprisingly, were reported to have increased screen time during the first COVID-19 lockdown in many countries. Here, we ask whether younger children with no similar online schooling requirements also had increased screen time during lockdown. We examined children’s screen time during the first COVID-19 lockdown in a large cohort (n = 2209) of 8-to-36-month-olds sampled from 15 labs across 12 countries. Caregivers reported that toddlers with no online schooling requirements were exposed to more screen time during lockdown than before lockdown. While this was exacerbated for countries with longer lockdowns, there was no evidence that the increase in screen time during lockdown was associated with socio-demographic variables, such as child age and socio-economic status (SES). However, screen time during lockdown was negatively associated with SES and positively associated with child age, caregiver screen time, and attitudes towards children’s screen time. The results highlight the impact of the COVID-19 lockdown on young children’s screen time.

    Additional information

    supplemental information
  • Byers-Heinlein, K., Bergmann, C., & Savalei, V. (2022). Six solutions for more reliable infant research. Infant and Child Development, 31(5): e2296. doi:10.1002/icd.2296.

    Abstract

    Infant research is often underpowered, undermining the robustness and replicability of our findings. Improving the reliability of infant studies offers a solution for increasing statistical power independent of sample size. Here, we discuss two senses of the term reliability in the context of infant research: reliable (large) effects and reliable measures. We examine the circumstances under which effects are strongest and measures are most reliable and use synthetic datasets to illustrate the relationship between effect size, measurement reliability, and statistical power. We then present six concrete solutions for more reliable infant research: (a) routinely estimating and reporting the effect size and measurement reliability of infant tasks, (b) selecting the best measurement tool, (c) developing better infant paradigms, (d) collecting more data points per infant, (e) excluding unreliable data from the analysis, and (f) conducting more sophisticated data analyses. Deeper consideration of measurement in infant research will improve our ability to study infant development.
  • Cox, C., Bergmann, C., Fowler, E., Keren-Portnoy, T., Roepstorff, A., Bryant, G., & Fusaroli, R. (2022). A systematic review and Bayesian meta-analysis of the acoustic features of infant-directed speech. Nature Human Behaviour. Advance online publication. doi:10.1038/s41562-022-01452-1.

    Abstract

    When speaking to infants, adults often produce speech that differs systematically from that directed to other adults. In order to quantify the acoustic properties of this speech style across a wide variety of languages and cultures, we extracted results from empirical studies on the acoustic features of infant-directed speech (IDS). We analyzed data from 88 unique studies (734 effect sizes) on the following five acoustic parameters that have been systematically examined in the literature: i) fundamental frequency (fo), ii) fo variability, iii) vowel space area, iv) articulation rate, and v) vowel duration. Moderator analyses were conducted in hierarchical Bayesian robust regression models in order to examine how these features change with infant age and differ across languages, experimental tasks and recording environments. The moderator analyses indicated that fo, articulation rate, and vowel duration became more similar to adult-directed speech (ADS) over time, whereas fo variability and vowel space area exhibited stability throughout development. These results point the way for future research to disentangle different accounts of the functions and learnability of IDS by conducting theory-driven comparisons among different languages and using computational models to formulate testable predictions.

    Additional information

    supplementary information
  • Creaghe, N., & Kidd, E. (2022). Symbolic play as a zone of proximal development: An analysis of informational exchange. Social Development, 31(4), 1138-1156. doi:10.1111/sode.12592.

    Abstract

    Symbolic play has long been considered a beneficial context for development. According to Cultural Learning theory, one reason for this is that symbolically-infused dialogical interactions constitute a zone of proximal development. However, the dynamics of caregiver-child interactions during symbolic play are still not fully understood. In the current study, we investigated informational exchange between fifty-two 24-month-old infants and their primary caregivers during symbolic play and a comparable, non-symbolic, functional play context. We coded over 11,000 utterances for whether participants had superior, equivalent, or inferior knowledge concerning the current conversational topic. Results showed that children were significantly more knowledgeable speakers and recipients in symbolic play, whereas the opposite was the case for caregivers, who were more knowledgeable in functional play. The results suggest that, despite its potential conceptual complexity, symbolic play may scaffold development because it facilitates infants’ communicative success by promoting them to ‘co-constructors of meaning’.

    Additional information

    supporting information
  • Cristia, A., Tsuji, S., & Bergmann, C. (2022). A meta-analytic approach to evaluating the explanatory adequacy of theories. Meta-Psychology, 6: MP.2020.2741. doi:10.15626/MP.2020.2741.

    Abstract

    How can data be used to check theories’ explanatory adequacy? The two traditional and most widespread approaches use single studies and non-systematic narrative reviews to evaluate theories’ explanatory adequacy; more
    recently, large-scale replications entered the picture. We argue here that none of these approaches fits in with
    cumulative science tenets. We propose instead Community-Augmented Meta-Analyses (CAMAs), which, like metaanalyses and systematic reviews, are built using all available data; like meta-analyses but not systematic reviews, can
    rely on sound statistical practices to model methodological effects; and like no other approach, are broad-scoped,
    cumulative and open. We explain how CAMAs entail a conceptual shift from meta-analyses and systematic reviews, a
    shift that is useful when evaluating theories’ explanatory adequacy. We then provide step-by-step recommendations
    for how to implement this approach – and what it means when one cannot. This leads us to conclude that CAMAs
    highlight areas of uncertainty better than alternative approaches that bring data to bear on theory evaluation, and
    can trigger a much needed shift towards a cumulative mindset with respect to both theory and data, leading us to
    do and view experiments and narrative reviews differently.

    Additional information

    All data available at OSF
  • Fletcher, J., Kidd, E., Stoakes, H., & Nordlinger, R. (2022). Prosodic phrasing, pitch range, and word order variation in Murrinhpatha. In R. Billington (Ed.), Proceedings of the 18th Australasian International Conference on Speech Science and Technology (pp. 201-205). Canberra: Australasian Speech Science and Technology Association.

    Abstract

    Like many Indigenous Australian languages, Murrinhpatha has flexible word order with no apparent configurational syntax. We analyzed an experimental corpus of Murrinhpatha utterances for associations between different thematic role orders, intonational phrasing patterns and pitch downtrends. We found that initial constituents (Agents or Patients) tend to carry the highest pitch targets (HiF0), followed by patterns of downstep and declination. Sentence-final verbs always have lower Hif0 values than either initial or medial Agents or Patients. Thematic role order does not influence intonational
    patterns, with the results suggesting that Murrinhpatha has positional prosody, although final nominals can disrupt global
    pitch downtrends regardless of thematic role.
  • Garcia, R., Roeser, J., & Kidd, E. (2022). Online data collection to address language sampling bias: Lessons from the COVID-19 pandemic. Linguistics Vanguard. Advance online publication. doi:10.1515/lingvan-2021-0040.

    Abstract

    The COVID-19 pandemic has massively limited how linguists can collect data, and out of necessity, researchers across several disciplines have moved data collection online. Here we argue that the rising popularity of remote web-based experiments also provides an opportunity for widening the context of linguistic research by facilitating data collection from understudied populations. We discuss collecting production data from adult native speakers of Tagalog using an unsupervised web-based experiment. Compared to equivalent lab experiments, data collection went quicker, and the sample was more diverse, without compromising data quality. However, there were also technical and human issues that come with this method. We discuss these challenges and provide suggestions on how to overcome them.
  • Garcia, R., & Kidd, E. (2022). Acquiring verb-argument structure in Tagalog: A multivariate corpus analysis of caregiver and child speech. Linguistics, 60(6), 1855-1906. doi:10.1515/ling-2021-0107.

    Abstract

    Western Austronesian languages have typologically rare but theoretically important voice systems that raise many questions about their learnability. While these languages have been featured prominently in the descriptive and typological literature, data on acquisition is sparse. In the current paper, we report on a variationist analysis of Tagalog child-directed speech using a newly collected corpus of caregiver-child interaction. We determined the constraints that condition voice use, voice selection, argument position, and thematic role assignment, thus providing the first quantitative analysis of verb argument structure variation in the language. We also examined whether children are sensitive to the constraints on variability. Our analyses showed that, despite the diversity of structures that children have to learn under Tagalog’s voice system, there are unique factors that strongly predict the speakers’ choice between the voice and word order alternations, with children’s choices related to structure alternations being similar to what is available in their input. The results thus suggest that input distributions provide many cues to the acquisition of the Tagalog voice system, making it eminently learnable despite its apparent complexity.
  • Gasparini, L., Tsuji, S., & Bergmann, C. (2022). Ten easy steps to conducting transparent, reproducible meta‐analyses for infant researchers. Infancy, 27(4), 736-764. doi:10.1111/infa.12470.

    Abstract

    Meta-analyses provide researchers with an overview of the body of evidence in a topic, with quantified estimates of effect sizes and the role of moderators, and weighting studies according to their precision. We provide a guide for conducting a transparent and reproducible meta-analysis in the field of developmental psychology within the framework of the MetaLab platform, in 10 steps: (1) Choose a topic for your meta-analysis, (2) Formulate your research question and specify inclusion criteria, (3) Preregister and document all stages of your meta-analysis, (4) Conduct the literature search, (5) Collect and screen records, (6) Extract data from eligible studies, (7) Read the data into analysis software and compute effect sizes, (8) Visualize your data, (9) Create meta-analytic models to assess the strength of the effect and investigate possible moderators, (10) Write up and promote your meta-analysis. Meta-analyses can inform future studies, through power calculations, by identifying robust methods and exposing research gaps. By adding a new meta-analysis to MetaLab, datasets across multiple topics of developmental psychology can be synthesized, and the dataset can be maintained as a living, community-augmented meta-analysis to which researchers add new data, allowing for a cumulative approach to evidence synthesis.
  • Goodhew, S. C., Reynolds, K., Edwards, M., & Kidd, E. (2022). The content of gender stereotypes embedded in language use. Journal of Language and Social Psychology, 41(2), 219-231. doi:10.1177/0261927X211033930.

    Abstract

    Gender stereotypes have endured despite substantial change in gender roles. Previous work has assessed how gender stereotypes affect language production in particular interactional contexts. Here, we assessed communication biases where context was less specified: written texts to diffuse audiences. We used Latent Semantic Analysis (LSA) to computationally quantify the similarity in meaning between gendered names and stereotype-linked terms in these communications. This revealed that female names were more similar in meaning to the proscriptive (undesirable) masculine terms, such as emotional.
  • Isbilen, E. S., Frost, R. L. A., Monaghan, P., & Christiansen, M. H. (2022). Statistically based chunking of nonadjacent dependencies. Journal of Experimental Psychology: General, 151(11), 2623-2640. doi:10.1037/xge0001207.

    Abstract

    How individuals learn complex regularities in the environment and generalize them to new instances is a key question in cognitive science. Although previous investigations have advocated the idea that learning and generalizing depend upon separate processes, the same basic learning mechanisms may account for both. In language learning experiments, these mechanisms have typically been studied in isolation of broader cognitive phenomena such as memory, perception, and attention. Here, we show how learning and generalization in language is embedded in these broader theories by testing learners on their ability to chunk nonadjacent dependencies—a key structure in language but a challenge to theories that posit learning through the memorization of structure. In two studies, adult participants were trained and tested on an artificial language containing nonadjacent syllable dependencies, using a novel chunking-based serial recall task involving verbal repetition of target sequences (formed from learned strings) and scrambled foils. Participants recalled significantly more syllables, bigrams, trigrams, and nonadjacent dependencies from sequences conforming to the language’s statistics (both learned and generalized sequences). They also encoded and generalized specific nonadjacent chunk information. These results suggest that participants chunk remote dependencies and rapidly generalize this information to novel structures. The results thus provide further support for learning-based approaches to language acquisition, and link statistical learning to broader cognitive mechanisms of memory.
  • Jessop, A., & Chang, F. (2022). Thematic role tracking difficulties across multiple visual events influences role use in language production. Visual Cognition, 30(3), 151-173. doi:10.1080/13506285.2021.2013374.

    Abstract

    Language sometimes requires tracking the same participant in different thematic roles across multiple visual events (e.g., The girl that another girl pushed chased a third girl). To better understand how vision and language interact in role tracking, participants described videos of multiple randomly moving circles where two push events were presented. A circle might have the same role in both push events (e.g., agent) or different roles (e.g., agent of one push and patient of other push). The first three studies found higher production accuracy for the same role conditions compared to the different role conditions across different linguistic structure manipulations. The last three studies compared a featural account, where role information was associated with particular circles, or a relational account, where role information was encoded with particular push events. These studies found no interference between different roles, contrary to the predictions of the featural account. The foil was manipulated in these studies to increase the saliency of the second push and it was found that this changed the accuracy in describing the first push. The results suggest that language-related thematic role processing uses a relational representation that can encode multiple events.

    Additional information

    https://doi.org/10.17605/OSF.IO/PKXZH
  • Kartushina, N., Mani, N., Aktan-Erciyes, A., Alaslani, K., Aldrich, N. J., Almohammadi, A., Alroqi, H., Anderson, L. M., Andonova, E., Aussems, S., Babineau, M., Barokova, M., Bergmann, C., Cashon, C., Custode, S., De Carvalho, A., Dimitrova, N., Dynak, A., Farah, R., Fennell, C. and 32 moreKartushina, N., Mani, N., Aktan-Erciyes, A., Alaslani, K., Aldrich, N. J., Almohammadi, A., Alroqi, H., Anderson, L. M., Andonova, E., Aussems, S., Babineau, M., Barokova, M., Bergmann, C., Cashon, C., Custode, S., De Carvalho, A., Dimitrova, N., Dynak, A., Farah, R., Fennell, C., Fiévet, A.-C., Frank, M. C., Gavrilova, M., Gendler-Shalev, H., Gibson, S. P., Golway, K., Gonzalez-Gomez, N., Haman, E., Hannon, E., Havron, N., Hay, J., Hendriks, C., Horowitz-Kraus, T., Kalashnikova, M., Kanero, J., Keller, C., Krajewski, G., Laing, C., Lundwall, R. A., Łuniewska, M., Mieszkowska, K., Munoz, L., Nave, K., Olesen, N., Perry, L., Rowland, C. F., Santos Oliveira, D., Shinskey, J., Veraksa, A., Vincent, K., Zivan, M., & Mayor, J. (2022). COVID-19 first lockdown as a window into language acquisition: Associations between caregiver-child activities and vocabulary gains. Language Development Research, 2, 1-36. doi:10.34842/abym-xv34.

    Abstract

    The COVID-19 pandemic, and the resulting closure of daycare centers worldwide, led to unprecedented changes in children’s learning environments. This period of increased time at home with caregivers, with limited access to external sources (e.g., daycares) provides a unique opportunity to examine the associations between the caregiver-child activities and children’s language development. The vocabularies of 1742 children aged8-36 months across 13 countries and 12 languages were evaluated at the beginning and end of the first lockdown period in their respective countries(from March to September 2020). Children who had less passive screen exposure and whose caregivers read more to them showed larger gains in vocabulary development during lockdown, after controlling for SES and other caregiver-child activities. Children also gained more words than expected (based on normative data) during lockdown; either caregivers were more aware of their child’s development or vocabulary development benefited from intense caregiver-child interaction during lockdown.
  • Kidd, E., & Garcia, R. (2022). How diverse is child language acquisition research? First Language, 42(6), 703-735. doi:10.1177/01427237211066405.

    Abstract

    A comprehensive theory of child language acquisition requires an evidential base that is representative of the typological diversity present in the world’s 7000 or so languages. However, languages are dying at an alarming rate, and the next 50 years represents the last chance we have to document acquisition in many of them. Here, we take stock of the last 45 years of research published in the four main child language acquisition journals: Journal of Child Language, First Language, Language Acquisition and Language Learning and Development. We coded each article for several variables, including (1) participant group (mono vs multilingual), (2) language(s), (3) topic(s) and (4) country of author affiliation, from each journal’s inception until the end of 2020. We found that we have at least one article published on around 103 languages, representing approximately 1.5% of the world’s languages. The distribution of articles was highly skewed towards English and other well-studied Indo-European languages, with the majority of non-Indo-European languages having just one paper. A majority of the papers focused on studies of monolingual children, although papers did not always explicitly report participant group status. The distribution of topics across language categories was more even. The number of articles published on non-Indo-European languages from countries outside of North America and Europe is increasing; however, this increase is driven by research conducted in relatively wealthy countries. Overall, the vast majority of the research was produced in the Global North. We conclude that, despite a proud history of crosslinguistic research, the goals of the discipline need to be recalibrated before we can lay claim to truly a representative account of child language acquisition.

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  • Kidd, E., & Garcia, R. (2022). Where to from here? Increasing language coverage while building a more diverse discipline. First Language, 42(6), 837-851. doi:10.1177/01427237221121190.

    Abstract

    Our original target article highlighted some significant shortcomings in the current state of child language research: a large skew in our evidential base towards English and a handful of other Indo-European languages that partly has its origins in a lack of researcher diversity. In this article, we respond to the 21 commentaries on our original article. The commentaries highlighted both the importance of attention to typological features of languages and the environments and contexts in which languages are acquired, with many commentators providing concrete suggestions on how we address the data skew. In this response, we synthesise the main themes of the commentaries and make suggestions for how the field can move towards both improving data coverage and opening up to traditionally under-represented researchers.

    Additional information

    Link to original target article
  • Kirk, E., Donnelly, S., Furman, R., Warmington, M., Glanville, J., & Eggleston, A. (2022). The relationship between infant pointing and language development: A meta-analytic review. Developmental Review, 64: 101023. doi:10.1016/j.dr.2022.101023.

    Abstract

    Infant pointing has long been identified as an important precursor and predictor of language development. Infants typically begin to produce index finger pointing around the time of their first birthday and previous research has shown that both the onset and the frequency of pointing can predict aspects of productive and receptive language. The current study used a multivariate meta-analytic approach to estimate the strength of the relationship between infant pointing and language. We identified 30 papers published between 1984 and 2019 that met our stringent inclusion criteria, and 25 studies (comprising 77 effect sizes) with samples ≥10 were analysed. Methodological quality of the studies was assessed to identify potential sources of bias. We found a significant but small overall effect size of r = 0.20. Our findings indicate that the unique contribution of pointing to language development may be less robust than has been previously understood, however our stringent inclusion criteria (as well as our publication bias corrections), means that our data represent a more conservative estimate of the relationship between pointing and language. Moderator analysis showed significant group differences in favour of effect sizes related to language comprehension, non-vocabulary measures of language, pointing assessed after 18 months of age and pointing measured independent of speech. A significant strength of this study is the use of multivariate meta-analysis, which allowed us to utilise all available data to provide a more accurate estimate. We consider the findings in the context of the existing research and discuss the general limitations in this field, including the lack of cultural diversity.

    Additional information

    supplementary data
  • Kumarage, S., Donnelly, S., & Kidd, E. (2022). Implicit learning of structure across time: A longitudinal investigation of syntactic priming in young English-acquiring children. Journal of Memory and Language, 127: 104374. doi:10.1016/j.jml.2022.104374.

    Abstract

    Theories of language acquisition vary significantly in their assumptions regarding the content of children’s early syntactic representations and how they subsequently develop towards the adult state. An important methodological tool in tapping syntactic knowledge is priming. In the current paper, we report the first longitudinal investigation of syntactic priming in children, to test the competing predictions of three different theoretical accounts. A sample of 106 children completed a syntactic priming task testing the English active/passive alternation every six months from 36 months to 54 months of age. We tracked both the emergence and development of the abstract priming effect and lexical boost effect. The lexical boost effect emerged late and increased in magnitude over development, whilst the abstract priming effect emerged early and, in a subsample of participants who produced at least one passive at 36 months, decreased in magnitude over time. In addition, there was substantial variation in the emergence of abstract priming amongst our sample, which was significantly predicted by language proficiency measured six months prior. We conclude that children’s representation of the passive is abstracted early, with lexically dependent priming coming online only later in development. The results are best explained by an implicit learning account of acquisition (Chang, F., Dell, G., S., & Bock, K. 2006. Becoming Syntactic. Psychological Review, 113, 234–272), which induces dynamic syntactic representations from the input that continue to change across developmental time.
  • Lingwood, J., Lampropoulou, S., De Bezena, C., Billington, J., & Rowland, C. F. (2022). Children’s engagement and caregivers’ use of language-boosting strategies during shared book reading: A mixed methods approach. Journal of Child Language. Advance online publication. doi:10.1017/S0305000922000290.

    Abstract

    For shared book reading to be effective for language development, the adult and child need to be highly engaged. The current paper adopted a mixed-methods approach to investigate caregiver’s language-boosting behaviours and children’s engagement during shared book reading. The results revealed there were more instances of joint attention and caregiver’s use of prompts during moments of higher engagement. However, instances of most language-boosting behaviours were similar across episodes of higher and lower engagement. Qualitative analysis assessing the link between children’s engagement and caregiver’s use of speech acts, revealed that speech acts do seem to contribute to high engagement, in combination with other aspects of the interaction.
  • Menks, W. M., Ekerdt, C., Janzen, G., Kidd, E., Lemhöfer, K., Fernández, G., & McQueen, J. M. (2022). Study protocol: A comprehensive multi-method neuroimaging approach to disentangle developmental effects and individual differences in second language learning. BMC Psychology, 10: 169. doi:10.1186/s40359-022-00873-x.

    Abstract

    Background

    While it is well established that second language (L2) learning success changes with age and across individuals, the underlying neural mechanisms responsible for this developmental shift and these individual differences are largely unknown. We will study the behavioral and neural factors that subserve new grammar and word learning in a large cross-sectional developmental sample. This study falls under the NWO (Nederlandse Organisatie voor Wetenschappelijk Onderzoek [Dutch Research Council]) Language in Interaction consortium (website: https://www.languageininteraction.nl/).
    Methods

    We will sample 360 healthy individuals across a broad age range between 8 and 25 years. In this paper, we describe the study design and protocol, which involves multiple study visits covering a comprehensive behavioral battery and extensive magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) protocols. On the basis of these measures, we will create behavioral and neural fingerprints that capture age-based and individual variability in new language learning. The behavioral fingerprint will be based on first and second language proficiency, memory systems, and executive functioning. We will map the neural fingerprint for each participant using the following MRI modalities: T1‐weighted, diffusion-weighted, resting-state functional MRI, and multiple functional-MRI paradigms. With respect to the functional MRI measures, half of the sample will learn grammatical features and half will learn words of a new language. Combining all individual fingerprints allows us to explore the neural maturation effects on grammar and word learning.
    Discussion

    This will be one of the largest neuroimaging studies to date that investigates the developmental shift in L2 learning covering preadolescence to adulthood. Our comprehensive approach of combining behavioral and neuroimaging data will contribute to the understanding of the mechanisms influencing this developmental shift and individual differences in new language learning. We aim to answer: (I) do these fingerprints differ according to age and can these explain the age-related differences observed in new language learning? And (II) which aspects of the behavioral and neural fingerprints explain individual differences (across and within ages) in grammar and word learning? The results of this study provide a unique opportunity to understand how the development of brain structure and function influence new language learning success.
  • Menn, K. H., Ward, E., Braukmann, R., Van den Boomen, C., Buitelaar, J., Hunnius, S., & Snijders, T. M. (2022). Neural tracking in infancy predicts language development in children with and without family history of autism. Neurobiology of Language, 3(3), 495-514. doi:10.1162/nol_a_00074.

    Abstract

    During speech processing, neural activity in non-autistic adults and infants tracks the speech envelope. Recent research in adults indicates that this neural tracking relates to linguistic knowledge and may be reduced in autism. Such reduced tracking, if present already in infancy, could impede language development. In the current study, we focused on children with a family history of autism, who often show a delay in first language acquisition. We investigated whether differences in tracking of sung nursery rhymes during infancy relate to language development and autism symptoms in childhood. We assessed speech-brain coherence at either 10 or 14 months of age in a total of 22 infants with high likelihood of autism due to family history and 19 infants without family history of autism. We analyzed the relationship between speech-brain coherence in these infants and their vocabulary at 24 months as well as autism symptoms at 36 months. Our results showed significant speech-brain coherence in the 10- and 14-month-old infants. We found no evidence for a relationship between speech-brain coherence and later autism symptoms. Importantly, speech-brain coherence in the stressed syllable rate (1–3 Hz) predicted later vocabulary. Follow-up analyses showed evidence for a relationship between tracking and vocabulary only in 10-month-olds but not 14-month-olds and indicated possible differences between the likelihood groups. Thus, early tracking of sung nursery rhymes is related to language development in childhood.
  • Nordlinger, R., Garrido Rodriguez, G., & Kidd, E. (2022). Sentence planning and production in Murrinhpatha, an Australian 'free word order' language. Language, 98(2), 187-220. Retrieved from https://muse.jhu.edu/article/857152.

    Abstract

    Psycholinguistic theories are based on a very small set of unrepresentative languages, so it is as yet unclear how typological variation shapes mechanisms supporting language use. In this article we report the first on-line experimental study of sentence production in an Australian free word order language: Murrinhpatha. Forty-six adult native speakers of Murrinhpatha described a series of unrelated transitive scenes that were manipulated for humanness (±human) in the agent and patient roles while their eye movements were recorded. Speakers produced a large range of word orders, consistent with the language having flexible word order, with variation significantly influenced by agent and patient humanness. An analysis of eye movements showed that Murrinhpatha speakers' first fixation on an event character did not alone determine word order; rather, early in speech planning participants rapidly encoded both event characters and their relationship to each other. That is, they engaged in relational encoding, laying down a very early conceptual foundation for the word order they eventually produced. These results support a weakly hierarchical account of sentence production and show that speakers of a free word order language encode the relationships between event participants during earlier stages of sentence planning than is typically observed for languages with fixed word orders.
  • Pereira Soares, S. M., Kupisch, T., & Rothman, J. (2022). Testing potential transfer effects in heritage and adult L2 bilinguals acquiring a mini grammar as an additional language: An ERP approach. Brain Sciences, 12: 669. doi:10.3390/brainsci12050669.

    Abstract

    Models on L3/Ln acquisition differ with respect to how they envisage degree (holistic
    vs. selective transfer of the L1, L2 or both) and/or timing (initial stages vs. development) of how
    the influence of source languages unfolds. This study uses EEG/ERPs to examine these models,
    bringing together two types of bilinguals: heritage speakers (HSs) (Italian-German, n = 15) compared
    to adult L2 learners (L1 German, L2 English, n = 28) learning L3/Ln Latin. Participants were trained
    on a selected Latin lexicon over two sessions and, afterward, on two grammatical properties: case
    (similar between German and Latin) and adjective–noun order (similar between Italian and Latin).
    Neurophysiological findings show an N200/N400 deflection for the HSs in case morphology and a
    P600 effect for the German L2 group in adjectival position. None of the current L3/Ln models predict
    the observed results, which questions the appropriateness of this methodology. Nevertheless, the
    results are illustrative of differences in how HSs and L2 learners approach the very initial stages of
    additional language learning, the implications of which are discussed
  • Pereira Soares, S. M., Prystauka, Y., DeLuca, V., & Rothman, J. (2022). Type of bilingualism conditions individual differences in the oscillatory dynamics of inhibitory control. Frontiers in Human Neuroscience, 16: 910910. doi:10.3389/fnhum.2022.910910.

    Abstract

    The present study uses EEG time-frequency representations (TFRs) with a Flanker task to investigate if and how individual differences in bilingual language experience modulate neurocognitive outcomes (oscillatory dynamics) in two bilingual group types: late bilinguals (L2 learners) and early bilinguals (heritage speakers—HSs). TFRs were computed for both incongruent and congruent trials. The difference between the two (Flanker effect vis-à-vis cognitive interference) was then (1) compared between the HSs and the L2 learners, (2) modeled as a function of individual differences with bilingual experience within each group separately and (3) probed for its potential (a)symmetry between brain and behavioral data. We found no differences at the behavioral and neural levels for the between-groups comparisons. However, oscillatory dynamics (mainly theta increase and alpha suppression) of inhibition and cognitive control were found to be modulated by individual differences in bilingual language experience, albeit distinctly within each bilingual group. While the results indicate adaptations toward differential brain recruitment in line with bilingual language experience variation overall, this does not manifest uniformly. Rather, earlier versus later onset to bilingualism—the bilingual type—seems to constitute an independent qualifier to how individual differences play out.

    Additional information

    supplementary material
  • Perfors, A., & Kidd, E. (2022). The role of stimulus‐specific perceptual fluency in statistical learning. Cognitive Science, 46(2): e13100. doi:10.1111/cogs.13100.

    Abstract

    Humans have the ability to learn surprisingly complicated statistical information in a variety of modalities and situations, often based on relatively little input. These statistical learning (SL) skills appear to underlie many kinds of learning, but despite their ubiquity, we still do not fully understand precisely what SL is and what individual differences on SL tasks reflect. Here, we present experimental work suggesting that at least some individual differences arise from stimulus-specific variation in perceptual fluency: the ability to rapidly or efficiently code and remember the stimuli that SL occurs over. Experiment 1 demonstrates that participants show improved SL when the stimuli are simple and familiar; Experiment 2 shows that this improvement is not evident for simple but unfamiliar stimuli; and Experiment 3 shows that for the same stimuli (Chinese characters), SL is higher for people who are familiar with them (Chinese speakers) than those who are not (English speakers matched on age and education level). Overall, our findings indicate that performance on a standard SL task varies substantially within the same (visual) modality as a function of whether the stimuli involved are familiar or not, independent of stimulus complexity. Moreover, test–retest correlations of performance in an SL task using stimuli of the same level of familiarity (but distinct items) are stronger than correlations across the same task with stimuli of different levels of familiarity. Finally, we demonstrate that SL performance is predicted by an independent measure of stimulus-specific perceptual fluency that contains no SL component at all. Our results suggest that a key component of SL performance may be related to stimulus-specific processing and familiarity.
  • Rossi, E., Pereira Soares, S. M., Prystauka, Y., Nakamura, M., & Rothman, J. (2022). Riding the (brain) waves! Using neural oscillations to inform bilingualism research. Bilingualism: Language and Cognition. Advance online publication. doi:10.1017/S1366728922000451.

    Abstract

    The study of the brains’ oscillatory activity has been a standard technique to gain insights into human neurocognition for a relatively long time. However, as a complementary analysis to ERPs, only very recently has it been utilized to study bilingualism and its neural underpinnings. Here, we provide a theoretical and methodological starter for scientists in the (psycho)linguistics and neurocognition of bilingualism field(s) to understand the bases and applications of this analytical tool. Towards this goal, we provide a description of the characteristics of the human neural (and its oscillatory) signal, followed by an in-depth description of various types of EEG oscillatory analyses, supplemented by figures and relevant examples. We then utilize the scant, yet emergent, literature on neural oscillations and bilingualism to highlight the potential of how analyzing neural oscillations can advance our understanding of the (psycho)linguistic and neurocognitive understanding of bilingualism.
  • Rothman, J., Bayram, F., DeLuca, V., Di Pisa, G., Duñabeitia, J. A., Gharibi, K., Hao, J., Kolb, N., Kubota, M., Kupisch, T., Laméris, T., Luque, A., Van Osch, B., Pereira Soares, S. M., Prystauka, Y., Tat, D., Tomić, A., Voits, T., & Wulff, S. (2022). Monolingual comparative normativity in bilingualism research is out of “control”: Arguments and alternatives. Applied Psycholinguistics. Advance online publication. doi:10.1017/S0142716422000315.

    Abstract

    Herein, we contextualize, problematize, and offer some insights for moving beyond the problem of monolingual comparative normativity in (psycho) linguistic research on bilingualism. We argue that, in the vast majority of cases, juxtaposing (functional) monolinguals to bilinguals fails to offer what the comparison is supposedly intended to do: meet the standards of empirical control in line with the scientific method. Instead, the default nature of monolingual comparative normativity has historically contributed to inequalities in many facets of bilingualism research and continues to impede progress on multiple levels. Beyond framing our views on the matter, we offer some epistemological considerations and methodological alternatives to this standard practice that improve empirical rigor while fostering increased diversity, inclusivity, and equity in our field.
  • Ruggeri, K., Panin, A., Vdovic, M., Većkalov, B., Abdul-Salaam, N., Achterberg, J., Akil, C., Amatya, J., Amatya, K., Andersen, T. L., Aquino, S. D., Arunasalam, A., Ashcroft-Jones, S., Askelund, A. D., Ayacaxli, N., Bagheri Sheshdeh, A., Bailey, A., Barea Arroyo, P., Basulto Mejía, G., Benvenuti, M. and 151 moreRuggeri, K., Panin, A., Vdovic, M., Većkalov, B., Abdul-Salaam, N., Achterberg, J., Akil, C., Amatya, J., Amatya, K., Andersen, T. L., Aquino, S. D., Arunasalam, A., Ashcroft-Jones, S., Askelund, A. D., Ayacaxli, N., Bagheri Sheshdeh, A., Bailey, A., Barea Arroyo, P., Basulto Mejía, G., Benvenuti, M., Berge, M. L., Bermaganbet, A., Bibilouri, K., Bjørndal, L. D., Black, S., Blomster Lyshol, J. K., Brik, T., Buabang, E. K., Burghart, M., Bursalıoğlu, A., Buzayu, N. M., Čadek, M., De Carvalho, N. M., Cazan, A.-M., Çetinçelik, M., Chai, V. E., Chen, P., Chen, S., Clay, G., D’Ambrogio, S., Damnjanović, K., Duffy, G., Dugue, T., Dwarkanath, T., Envuladu, E. A., Erceg, N., Esteban-Serna, C., Farahat, E., Farrokhnia, R. A., Fawad, M., Fedryansyah, M., Feng, D., Filippi, S., Fonollá, M. A., Freichel, R., Freira, L., Friedemann, M., Gao, Z., Ge, S., Geiger, S. J., George, L., Grabovski, I., Gracheva, A., Gracheva, A., Hajian, A., Hasan, N., Hecht, M., Hong, X., Hubená, B., Ikonomeas, A. G. F., Ilić, S., Izydorczyk, D., Jakob, L., Janssens, M., Jarke, H., Kácha, O., Kalinova, K. N., Kapingura, F. M., Karakasheva, R., Kasdan, D. O., Kemel, E., Khorrami, P., Krawiec, J. M., Lagidze, N., Lazarević, A., Lazić, A., Lee, H. S., Lep, Ž., Lins, S., Lofthus, I. S., Macchia, L., Mamede, S., Mamo, M. A., Maratkyzy, L., Mareva, S., Marwaha, S., McGill, L., McParland, S., Melnic, A., Meyer, S. A., Mizak, S., Mohammed, A., Mukhyshbayeva, A., Navajas, J., Neshevska, D., Niazi, S. J., Nieves, A. E. N., Nippold, F., Oberschulte, J., Otto, T., Pae, R., Panchelieva, T., Park, S. Y., Pascu, D. S., Pavlović, I., Petrović, M. B., Popović, D., Prinz, G. M., Rachev, N. R., Ranc, P., Razum, J., Rho, C. E., Riitsalu, L., Rocca, F., Rosenbaum, R. S., Rujimora, J., Rusyidi, B., Rutherford, C., Said, R., Sanguino, I., Sarikaya, A. K., Say, N., Schuck, J., Shiels, M., Shir, Y., Sievert, E. D. C., Soboleva, I., Solomonia, T., Soni, S., Soysal, I., Stablum, F., Sundström, F. T. A., Tang, X., Tavera, F., Taylor, J., Tebbe, A.-L., Thommesen, K. K., Tobias-Webb, J., Todsen, A. L., Toscano, F., Tran, T., Trinh, J., Turati, A., Ueda, K., Vacondio, M., Vakhitov, V., Valencia, A. J., Van Reyn, C., Venema, T. A. G., Verra, S. E., Vintr, J., Vranka, M. A., Wagner, L., Wu, X., Xing, K. Y., Xu, K., Xu, S., Yamada, Y., Yosifova, A., Zupan, Z., & García-Garzon, E. (2022). The globalizability of temporal discounting. Nature Human Behaviour, 6, 1386-1397. doi:10.1038/s41562-022-01392-w.

    Abstract

    Economic inequality is associated with preferences for smaller, immediate gains over larger, delayed ones. Such temporal discounting may feed into rising global inequality, yet it is unclear whether it is a function of choice preferences or norms, or rather the absence of sufficient resources for immediate needs. It is also not clear whether these reflect true differences in choice patterns between income groups. We tested temporal discounting and five intertemporal choice anomalies using local currencies and value standards in 61 countries (N = 13,629). Across a diverse sample, we found consistent, robust rates of choice anomalies. Lower-income groups were not significantly different, but economic inequality and broader financial circumstances were clearly correlated with population choice patterns.
  • Stärk, K., Kidd, E., & Frost, R. L. A. (2022). Word segmentation cues in German child-directed speech: A corpus analysis. Language and Speech, 65(1), 3-27. doi:10.1177/0023830920979016.

    Abstract

    To acquire language, infants must learn to segment words from running speech. A significant body of experimental research shows that infants use multiple cues to do so; however, little research has comprehensively examined the distribution of such cues in naturalistic speech. We conducted a comprehensive corpus analysis of German child-directed speech (CDS) using data from the Child Language Data Exchange System (CHILDES) database, investigating the availability of word stress, transitional probabilities (TPs), and lexical and sublexical frequencies as potential cues for word segmentation. Seven hours of data (~15,000 words) were coded, representing around an average day of speech to infants. The analysis revealed that for 97% of words, primary stress was carried by the initial syllable, implicating stress as a reliable cue to word onset in German CDS. Word identity was also marked by TPs between syllables, which were higher within than between words, and higher for backwards than forwards transitions. Words followed a Zipfian-like frequency distribution, and over two-thirds of words (78%) were monosyllabic. Of the 50 most frequent words, 82% were function words, which accounted for 47% of word tokens in the entire corpus. Finally, 15% of all utterances comprised single words. These results give rich novel insights into the availability of segmentation cues in German CDS, and support the possibility that infants draw on multiple converging cues to segment their input. The data, which we make openly available to the research community, will help guide future experimental investigations on this topic.

    Additional information

    Supplemental material via OSF
  • Stärk, K., Kidd, E., & Frost, R. L. A. (2022). The effect of children's prior knowledge and language abilities on their statistical learning. Applied Psycholinguistics, 43(5), 1045-1071. doi:10.1017/S0142716422000273.

    Abstract

    Statistical learning (SL) is assumed to lead to long-term memory representations. However, the way that those representations influence future learning remains largely unknown. We studied how children’s existing distributional linguistic knowledge influences their subsequent SL on a serial recall task, in which 49 German-speaking seven- to nine-year-old children repeated a series of six-syllable sequences. These contained either (i) bisyllabic words based on frequently occurring German syllable transitions (naturalistic sequences), (ii) bisyllabic words created from unattested syllable transitions (non-naturalistic sequences), or (iii) random syllable combinations (unstructured foils). Children demonstrated learning from naturalistic sequences from the beginning of the experiment, indicating that their implicit memory traces derived from their input language informed learning from the very early stages onward. Exploratory analyses indicated that children with a higher language proficiency were more accurate in repeating the sequences and improved most throughout the study compared to children with lower proficiency.
  • Stärk, K., Kidd, E., & Frost, R. L. A. (2022). Close encounters of the word kind: Attested distributional information boosts statistical learning. Language Learning. Advance online publication. doi:10.1111/lang.12523.

    Abstract

    Statistical learning, the ability to extract regularities from input (e.g., in language), is likely supported by learners’ prior expectations about how component units co-occur. In this study, we investigated how adults’ prior experience with sublexical regularities in their native language influences performance on an empirical language learning task. Forty German-speaking adults completed a speech repetition task in which they repeated eight-syllable sequences from two experimental languages: one containing disyllabic words comprised of frequently occurring German syllable transitions (naturalistic words) and the other containing words made from unattested syllable transitions (non-naturalistic words). The participants demonstrated learning from both naturalistic and non-naturalistic stimuli. However, learning was superior for the naturalistic sequences, indicating that the participants had used their existing distributional knowledge of German to extract the naturalistic words faster and more accurately than the non-naturalistic words. This finding supports theories of statistical learning as a form of chunking, whereby frequently co-occurring units become entrenched in long-term memory.

    Additional information

    accessible summary appendix S1
  • Van den Heuvel, H., Oostdijk, N., Rowland, C. F., & Trilsbeek, P. (2022). The CLARIN Knowledge Centre for Atypical Communication Expertise. In D. Fišer, & A. Witt (Eds.), CLARIN: The Infrastructure for Language Resources (pp. 373-388). Berlin, Boston: De Gruyter.

    Abstract

    In this chapter we introduce the CLARIN Knowledge Centre for Atypical Communication Expertise. The mission of ACE is to support researchers engaged in languages which pose particular challenges for analysis; for this, we use the umbrella term “atypical communication”. This includes language use by second-language learners, people with language disorders or those suffering from lan-guage disabilities, and languages that pose unique challenges for analysis, such as sign languages and languages spoken in a multilingual context. The chapter presents details about the collaborations and outreach of the centre, the services offered, and a number of showcases for its activities.
  • Vanden Bosch der Nederlanden, C. M., Joanisse, M. F., Grahn, J. A., Snijders, T. M., & Schoffelen, J.-M. (2022). Familiarity modulates neural tracking of sung and spoken utterances. NeuroImage, 252: 119049. doi:10.1016/j.neuroimage.2022.119049.

    Abstract

    Music is often described in the laboratory and in the classroom as a beneficial tool for memory encoding and retention, with a particularly strong effect when words are sung to familiar compared to unfamiliar melodies. However, the neural mechanisms underlying this memory benefit, especially for benefits related to familiar music are not well understood. The current study examined whether neural tracking of the slow syllable rhythms of speech and song is modulated by melody familiarity. Participants became familiar with twelve novel melodies over four days prior to MEG testing. Neural tracking of the same utterances spoken and sung revealed greater cerebro-acoustic phase coherence for sung compared to spoken utterances, but did not show an effect of familiar melody when stimuli were grouped by their assigned (trained) familiarity. When participant's subjective ratings of perceived familiarity during the MEG testing session were used to group stimuli, however, a large effect of familiarity was observed. This effect was not specific to song, as it was observed in both sung and spoken utterances. Exploratory analyses revealed some in-session learning of unfamiliar and spoken utterances, with increased neural tracking for untrained stimuli by the end of the MEG testing session. Our results indicate that top-down factors like familiarity are strong modulators of neural tracking for music and language. Participants’ neural tracking was related to their perception of familiarity, which was likely driven by a combination of effects from repeated listening, stimulus-specific melodic simplicity, and individual differences. Beyond simply the acoustic features of music, top-down factors built into the music listening experience, like repetition and familiarity, play a large role in the way we attend to and encode information presented in a musical context.

    Additional information

    supplementary materials
  • Visser, I., Bergmann, C., Byers-Heinlein, K., Dal Ben, R., Duch, W., Forbes, S., Franchin, L., Frank, M., Geraci, A., Hamlin, J. K., Kaldy, Z., Kulke, L., Laverty, C., Lew-Williams, C., Mateu, V., Mayor, J., Moreau, D., Nomikou, I., Schuwerk, T., Simpson, E. and 8 moreVisser, I., Bergmann, C., Byers-Heinlein, K., Dal Ben, R., Duch, W., Forbes, S., Franchin, L., Frank, M., Geraci, A., Hamlin, J. K., Kaldy, Z., Kulke, L., Laverty, C., Lew-Williams, C., Mateu, V., Mayor, J., Moreau, D., Nomikou, I., Schuwerk, T., Simpson, E., Singh, L., Soderstrom, M., Sullivan, J., Van den Heuvel, M. I., Westermann, G., Yamada, Y., Zaadnoordijk, L., & Zettersten, M. (2022). Improving the generalizability of infant psychological research: The ManyBabies model. Behavioral and Brain Sciences, 45: e35. doi:10.1017/S0140525X21000455.

    Abstract

    Yarkoni’s analysis clearly articulates a number of concerns limiting the generalizability and explanatory power of psychological findings, many of which are compounded in infancy research. ManyBabies addresses these concerns via a radically collaborative, large-scale and open approach to research that is grounded in theory-building, committed to diversification, and focused on understanding sources of variation.
  • Wolf, M. C. (2022). Spoken and written word processing: Effects of presentation modality and individual differences in experience to written language. PhD Thesis, Radboud University Nijmegen, Nijmegen.
  • Bidgood, A., Pine, J., Rowland, C. F., Sala, G., Freudenthal, D., & Ambridge, B. (2021). Verb argument structure overgeneralisations for the English intransitive and transitive constructions: Grammaticality judgments and production priming. Language and Cognition, 13(3), 397-437. doi:10.1017/langcog.2021.8.

    Abstract

    We used a multi-method approach to investigate how children avoid (or retreat from) argument structure overgeneralisation errors (e.g., *You giggled me). Experiment 1 investigated how semantic and statistical constraints (preemption and entrenchment) influence children’s and adults’ judgments of the grammatical acceptability of 120 verbs in transitive and intransitive sentences. Experiment 2 used syntactic priming to elicit overgeneralisation errors from children (aged 5–6) to investigate whether the same constraints operate in production. For judgments, the data showed effects of preemption, entrenchment, and semantics for all ages. For production, only an effect of preemption was observed, and only for transitivisation errors with intransitive-only verbs (e.g., *The man laughed the girl). We conclude that preemption, entrenchment, and semantic effects are real, but are obscured by particular features of the present production task.

    Additional information

    supplementary material
  • Byers-Heinlein, K., Tsui, A. S. M., Bergmann, C., Black, A. K., Brown, A., Carbajal, M. J., Durrant, S., Fennell, C. T., Fiévet, A.-C., Frank, M. C., Gampe, A., Gervain, J., Gonzalez-Gomez, N., Hamlin, J. K., Havron, N., Hernik, M., Kerr, S., Killam, H., Klassen, K., Kosie, J. and 18 moreByers-Heinlein, K., Tsui, A. S. M., Bergmann, C., Black, A. K., Brown, A., Carbajal, M. J., Durrant, S., Fennell, C. T., Fiévet, A.-C., Frank, M. C., Gampe, A., Gervain, J., Gonzalez-Gomez, N., Hamlin, J. K., Havron, N., Hernik, M., Kerr, S., Killam, H., Klassen, K., Kosie, J., Kovács, Á. M., Lew-Williams, C., Liu, L., Mani, N., Marino, C., Mastroberardino, M., Mateu, V., Noble, C., Orena, A. J., Polka, L., Potter, C. E., Schreiner, M., Singh, L., Soderstrom, M., Sundara, M., Waddell, C., Werker, J. F., & Wermelinger, S. (2021). A multilab study of bilingual infants: Exploring the preference for infant-directed speech. Advances in Methods and Practices in Psychological Science, 4(1), 1-30. doi:10.1177/2515245920974622.

    Abstract

    From the earliest months of life, infants prefer listening to and learn better from infant-directed speech (IDS) than adult-directed speech (ADS). Yet, IDS differs within communities, across languages, and across cultures, both in form and in prevalence. This large-scale, multi-site study used the diversity of bilingual infant experiences to explore the impact of different types of linguistic experience on infants’ IDS preference. As part of the multi-lab ManyBabies project, we compared lab-matched samples of 333 bilingual and 385 monolingual infants’ preference for North-American English IDS (cf. ManyBabies Consortium, in press (MB1)), tested in 17 labs in 7 countries. Those infants were tested in two age groups: 6–9 months (the younger sample) and 12–15 months (the older sample). We found that bilingual and monolingual infants both preferred IDS to ADS, and did not differ in terms of the overall magnitude of this preference. However, amongst bilingual infants who were acquiring North-American English (NAE) as a native language, greater exposure to NAE was associated with a stronger IDS preference, extending the previous finding from MB1 that monolinguals learning NAE as a native language showed a stronger preference than infants unexposed to NAE. Together, our findings indicate that IDS preference likely makes a similar contribution to monolingual and bilingual development, and that infants are exquisitely sensitive to the nature and frequency of different types of language input in their early environments.
  • Casillas, M., Brown, P., & Levinson, S. C. (2021). Early language experience in a Papuan community. Journal of Child Language, 48(4), 792-814. doi:10.1017/S0305000920000549.

    Abstract

    The rate at which young children are directly spoken to varies due to many factors, including (a) caregiver ideas about children as conversational partners and (b) the organization of everyday life. Prior work suggests cross-cultural variation in rates of child-directed speech is due to the former factor, but has been fraught with confounds in comparing postindustrial and subsistence farming communities. We investigate the daylong language environments of children (0;0–3;0) on Rossel Island, Papua New Guinea, a small-scale traditional community where prior ethnographic study demonstrated contingency-seeking child interaction styles. In fact, children were infrequently directly addressed and linguistic input rate was primarily affected by situational factors, though children’s vocalization maturity showed no developmental delay. We compare the input characteristics between this community and a Tseltal Mayan one in which near-parallel methods produced comparable results, then briefly discuss the models and mechanisms for learning best supported by our findings.
  • Çetinçelik, M., Rowland, C. F., & Snijders, T. M. (2021). Do the eyes have it? A systematic review on the role of eye gaze in infant language development. Frontiers in Psychology, 11: 589096. doi:10.3389/fpsyg.2020.589096.

    Abstract

    Eye gaze is a ubiquitous cue in child-caregiver interactions and infants are highly attentive to eye gaze from very early on. However, the question of why infants show gaze-sensitive behavior, and what role this sensitivity to gaze plays in their language development, is not yet well-understood. To gain a better understanding of the role of eye gaze in infants’ language learning, we conducted a broad systematic review of the developmental literature for all studies that investigate the role of eye gaze in infants’ language development. Across 77 peer-reviewed articles containing data from typically-developing human infants (0-24 months) in the domain of language development we identified two broad themes. The first tracked the effect of eye gaze on four developmental domains: (1) vocabulary development, (2) word-object mapping, (3) object processing, and (4) speech processing. Overall, there is considerable evidence that infants learn more about objects and are more likely to form word-object mappings in the presence of eye gaze cues, both of which are necessary for learning words. In addition, there is good evidence for longitudinal relationships between infants’ gaze following abilities and later receptive and expressive vocabulary. However, many domains (e.g. speech processing) are understudied; further work is needed to decide whether gaze effects are specific to tasks such as word-object mapping, or whether they reflect a general learning enhancement mechanism. The second theme explored the reasons why eye gaze might be facilitative for learning, addressing the question of whether eye gaze is treated by infants as a specialized socio-cognitive cue. We concluded that the balance of evidence supports the idea that eye gaze facilitates infants’ learning by enhancing their arousal, memory and attentional capacities to a greater extent than other low-level attentional cues. However, as yet, there are too few studies that directly compare the effect of eye gaze cues and non-social, attentional cues for strong conclusions to be drawn. We also suggest there might be a developmental effect, with eye gaze, over the course of the first two years of life, developing into a truly ostensive cue that enhances language learning across the board.

    Additional information

    data sheet
  • Chan, A., Matthews, S., Tse, N., Lam, A., Chang, F., & Kidd, E. (2021). Revisiting Subject–Object Asymmetry in the Production of Cantonese Relative Clauses: Evidence From Elicited Production in 3-Year-Olds. Frontiers in Psychology, 12: 679008. doi:10.3389/fpsyg.2021.679008.

    Abstract

    Emergentist approaches to language acquisition identify a core role for language-specific experience and give primacy to other factors like function and domain-general learning mechanisms in syntactic development. This directly contrasts with a nativist structurally oriented approach, which predicts that grammatical development is guided by Universal Grammar and that structural factors constrain acquisition. Cantonese relative clauses (RCs) offer a good opportunity to test these perspectives because its typologically rare properties decouple the roles of frequency and complexity in subject- and object-RCs in a way not possible in European languages. Specifically, Cantonese object RCs of the classifier type are frequently attested in children’s linguistic experience and are isomorphic to frequent and early-acquired simple SVO transitive clauses, but according to formal grammatical analyses Cantonese subject RCs are computationally less demanding to process. Thus, the two opposing theories make different predictions: the emergentist approach predicts a specific preference for object RCs of the classifier type, whereas the structurally oriented approach predicts a subject advantage. In the current study we revisited this issue. Eighty-seven monolingual Cantonese children aged between 3;2 and 3;11 (Mage: 3;6) participated in an elicited production task designed to elicit production of subject- and object- RCs. The children were very young and most of them produced only noun phrases when RCs were elicited. Those (nine children) who did produce RCs produced overwhelmingly more object RCs than subject RCs, even when animacy cues were controlled. The majority of object RCs produced were the frequent classifier-type RCs. The findings concur with our hypothesis from the emergentist perspectives that input frequency and formal and functional similarity to known structures guide acquisition.
  • Chen, A., Çetinçelik, M., Roncaglia-Denissen, M. P., & Sadakata, M. (2021). Native language, L2 experience, and pitch processing in music. Linguistic Approaches to Bilingualism. Advance online publication. doi:10.1075/lab.20030.che.

    Abstract

    The current study investigated how the role of pitch in one’s native language and L2 experience influenced musical melodic processing by testing Turkish and Mandarin Chinese advanced and beginning learners of English as an L2. Pitch has a lower functional load and shows a simpler pattern in Turkish than in Chinese as the former only contrasts between presence and the absence of pitch elevation, while the latter makes use of four different pitch contours lexically. Using the Musical Ear Test as the tool, we found that the Chinese listeners outperformed the Turkish listeners, and the advanced L2 learners outperformed the beginning learners. The Turkish listeners were further tested on their discrimination of bisyllabic Chinese lexical tones, and again an L2 advantage was observed. No significant difference was found for working memory between the beginning and advanced L2 learners. These results suggest that richness of tonal inventory of the native language is essential for triggering a music processing advantage, and on top of the tone language advantage, the L2 experience yields a further enhancement. Yet, unlike the tone language advantage that seems to relate to pitch expertise, learning an L2 seems to improve sound discrimination in general, and such improvement exhibits in non-native lexical tone discrimination.
  • Creaghe, N., Quinn, S., & Kidd, E. (2021). Symbolic play provides a fertile context for language development. Infancy, 26(6), 980-1010. doi:10.1111/infa.12422.

    Abstract

    In this study we test the hypothesis that symbolic play represents a fertile context for language acquisition because its inherent ambiguity elicits communicative behaviours that positively influence development. Infant-caregiver dyads (N = 54) participated in two 20-minute play sessions six months apart (Time 1 = 18 months, Time 2 = 24 months). During each session the dyads played with two sets of toys that elicited either symbolic or functional play. The sessions were transcribed and coded for several features of dyadic interaction and speech; infants’ linguistic proficiency was measured via parental report. The two play contexts resulted in different communicative and linguistic behaviour. Notably, the symbolic play condition resulted in significantly greater conversational turn-taking than functional play, and also resulted in the greater use of questions and mimetics in infant-directed speech (IDS). In contrast, caregivers used more imperative clauses in functional play. Regression analyses showed that unique properties of symbolic play (i.e., turn-taking, yes-no questions, mimetics) positively predicted children’s language proficiency, whereas unique features of functional play (i.e., imperatives in IDS) negatively predicted proficiency. The results provide evidence in support of the hypothesis that symbolic play is a fertile context for language development, driven by the need to negotiate meaning.
  • Cristia, A., Lavechin, M., Scaff, C., Soderstrom, M., Rowland, C. F., Räsänen, O., Bunce, J., & Bergelson, E. (2021). A thorough evaluation of the Language Environment Analysis (LENA) system. Behavior Research Methods, 53, 467-486. doi:10.3758/s13428-020-01393-5.

    Abstract

    In the previous decade, dozens of studies involving thousands of children across several research disciplines have made use of a combined daylong audio-recorder and automated algorithmic analysis called the LENAⓇ system, which aims to assess children’s language environment. While the system’s prevalence in the language acquisition domain is steadily growing, there are only scattered validation efforts on only some of its key characteristics. Here, we assess the LENAⓇ system’s accuracy across all of its key measures: speaker classification, Child Vocalization Counts (CVC), Conversational Turn Counts (CTC), and Adult Word Counts (AWC). Our assessment is based on manual annotation of clips that have been randomly or periodically sampled out of daylong recordings, collected from (a) populations similar to the system’s original training data (North American English-learning children aged 3-36 months), (b) children learning another dialect of English (UK), and (c) slightly older children growing up in a different linguistic and socio-cultural setting (Tsimane’ learners in rural Bolivia). We find reasonably high accuracy in some measures (AWC, CVC), with more problematic levels of performance in others (CTC, precision of male adults and other children). Statistical analyses do not support the view that performance is worse for children who are dissimilar from the LENAⓇ original training set. Whether LENAⓇ results are accurate enough for a given research, educational, or clinical application depends largely on the specifics at hand. We therefore conclude with a set of recommendations to help researchers make this determination for their goals.
  • Cychosz, M., Cristia, A., Bergelson, E., Casillas, M., Baudet, G., Warlaumont, A. S., Scaff, C., Yankowitz, L., & Seidl, A. (2021). Vocal development in a large‐scale crosslinguistic corpus. Developmental Science, 24(5): e13090. doi:10.1111/desc.13090.

    Abstract

    This study evaluates whether early vocalizations develop in similar ways in children across diverse cultural contexts. We analyze data from daylong audio recordings of 49 children (1–36 months) from five different language/cultural backgrounds. Citizen scientists annotated these recordings to determine if child vocalizations contained canonical transitions or not (e.g., “ba” vs. “ee”). Results revealed that the proportion of clips reported to contain canonical transitions increased with age. Furthermore, this proportion exceeded 0.15 by around 7 months, replicating and extending previous findings on canonical vocalization development but using data from the natural environments of a culturally and linguistically diverse sample. This work explores how crowdsourcing can be used to annotate corpora, helping establish developmental milestones relevant to multiple languages and cultures. Lower inter‐annotator reliability on the crowdsourcing platform, relative to more traditional in‐lab expert annotators, means that a larger number of unique annotators and/or annotations are required, and that crowdsourcing may not be a suitable method for more fine‐grained annotation decisions. Audio clips used for this project are compiled into a large‐scale infant vocalization corpus that is available for other researchers to use in future work.

    Additional information

    supporting information audio data
  • DeMayo, B., Kellier, D., Braginsky, M., Bergmann, C., Hendriks, C., Rowland, C. F., Frank, M., & Marchman, V. (2021). Web-CDI: A system for online administration of the MacArthur-Bates Communicative Development Inventories. Language Development Research, 10.34758/kr8e-w591. doi:10.34758/kr8e-w591.

    Abstract

    Understanding the mechanisms that drive variation in children’s language acquisition requires large, population-representative datasets of children’s word learning across development. Parent report measures such as the MacArthur-Bates Communicative Development Inventories (CDI) are commonly used to collect such data, but the traditional paper-based forms make the curation of large datasets logistically challenging. Many CDI datasets are thus gathered using convenience samples, often recruited from communities in proximity to major research institutions. Here, we introduce Web-CDI, a web-based tool which allows researchers to collect CDI data online. Web-CDI contains functionality to collect and manage longitudinal data, share links to test administrations, and download vocabulary scores. To date, over 3,500 valid Web-CDI administrations have been completed. General trends found in past norming studies of the CDI are present in data collected from Web-CDI: scores of children’s productive vocabulary grow with age, female children show a slightly faster rate of vocabulary growth, and participants with higher levels of educational attainment report slightly higher vocabulary production scores than those with lower levels of education attainment. We also report results from an effort to oversample non-white, lower-education participants via online recruitment (N = 241). These data showed similar demographic trends to the full sample but this effort resulted in a high exclusion rate. We conclude by discussing implications and challenges for the collection of large, population-representative datasets.

    Additional information

    data and code
  • Donnelly, S., & Kidd, E. (2021). Onset neighborhood density slows lexical access in high vocabulary 30‐month olds. Cognitive Science, 45(9): e13022. doi:10.1111/cogs.13022.

    Abstract

    There is consensus that the adult lexicon exhibits lexical competition. In particular, substantial evidence demonstrates that words with more phonologically similar neighbors are recognized less efficiently than words with fewer neighbors. How and when these effects emerge in the child's lexicon is less clear. In the current paper, we build on previous research by testing whether phonological onset density slows lexical access in a large sample of 100 English-acquiring 30-month-olds. The children participated in a visual world looking-while-listening task, in which their attention was directed to one of two objects on a computer screen while their eye movements were recorded. We found moderate evidence of inhibitory effects of onset neighborhood density on lexical access and clear evidence for an interaction between onset neighborhood density and vocabulary, with larger effects of onset neighborhood density for children with larger vocabularies. Results suggest the lexicons of 30-month-olds exhibit lexical-level competition, with competition increasing with vocabulary size.
  • Donnelly, S., & Kidd, E. (2021). On the structure and source of individual differences in toddlers' comprehension of transitive sentences. Frontiers in Psychology, 12: 661022. doi:10.3389/fpsyg.2021.661022.

    Abstract

    How children learn grammar is one of the most fundamental questions in cognitive science. Two theoretical accounts, namely, the Early Abstraction and Usage-Based accounts, propose competing answers to this question. To compare the predictions of these accounts, we tested the comprehension of 92 24-month old children of transitive sentences with novel verbs (e.g., “The boy is gorping the girl!”) with the Intermodal Preferential Looking (IMPL) task. We found very little evidence that children looked to the target video at above-chance levels. Using mixed and mixture models, we tested the predictions the two accounts make about: (i) the structure of individual differences in the IMPL task and (ii) the relationship between vocabulary knowledge, lexical processing, and performance in the IMPL task. However, the results did not strongly support either of the two accounts. The implications for theories on language acquisition and for tasks developed for examining individual differences are discussed.

    Additional information

    data via OSF
  • Donnelly, S., & Kidd, E. (2021). The longitudinal relationship between conversational turn-taking and vocabulary growth in early language development. Child Development, 92(2), 609-625. doi:10.1111/cdev.13511.

    Abstract

    Children acquire language embedded within the rich social context of interaction. This paper reports on a longitudinal study investigating the developmental relationship between conversational turn‐taking and vocabulary growth in English‐acquiring children (N = 122) followed between 9 and 24 months. Daylong audio recordings obtained every 3 months provided several indices of the language environment, including the number of adult words children heard in their environment and their number of conversational turns. Vocabulary was measured independently via parental report. Growth curve analyses revealed a bidirectional relationship between conversational turns and vocabulary growth, controlling for the amount of words in children’s environments. The results are consistent with theoretical approaches that identify social interaction as a core component of early language acquisition.
  • Durrant, S., Jessop, A., Chang, F., Bidgood, A., Peter, M. S., Pine, J. M., & Rowland, C. F. (2021). Does the understanding of complex dynamic events at 10 months predict vocabulary development? Language and Cognition, 13(1), 66-98. doi:10.1017/langcog.2020.26.

    Abstract

    By the end of their first year, infants can interpret many different types of complex dynamic visual events, such as caused-motion, chasing, and goal-directed action. Infants of this age are also in the early stages of vocabulary development, producing their first words at around 12 months. The present work examined whether there are meaningful individual differences in infants’ ability to represent dynamic causal events in visual scenes, and whether these differences influence vocabulary development. As part of the longitudinal Language 0–5 Project, 78 10-month-old infants were tested on their ability to interpret three dynamic motion events, involving (a) caused-motion, (b) chasing behaviour, and (c) goal-directed movement. Planned analyses found that infants showed evidence of understanding the first two event types, but not the third. Looking behaviour in each task was not meaningfully related to vocabulary development, nor were there any correlations between the tasks. The results of additional exploratory analyses and simulations suggested that the infants’ understanding of each event may not be predictive of their vocabulary development, and that looking times in these tasks may not be reliably capturing any meaningful individual differences in their knowledge. This raises questions about how to convert experimental group designs to individual differences measures, and how to interpret infant looking time behaviour.
  • Frost, R. L. A., & Casillas, M. (2021). Investigating statistical learning of nonadjacent dependencies: Running statistical learning tasks in non-WEIRD populations. In SAGE Research Methods Cases. doi:10.4135/9781529759181.

    Abstract

    Language acquisition is complex. However, one thing that has been suggested to help learning is the way that information is distributed throughout language; co-occurrences among particular items (e.g., syllables and words) have been shown to help learners discover the words that a language contains and figure out how those words are used. Humans’ ability to draw on this information—“statistical learning”—has been demonstrated across a broad range of studies. However, evidence from non-WEIRD (Western, Educated, Industrialized, Rich, and Democratic) societies is critically lacking, which limits theorizing on the universality of this skill. We extended work on statistical language learning to a new, non-WEIRD linguistic population: speakers of Yélî Dnye, who live on a remote island off mainland Papua New Guinea (Rossel Island). We performed a replication of an existing statistical learning study, training adults on an artificial language with statistically defined words, then examining what they had learnt using a two-alternative forced-choice test. Crucially, we implemented several key amendments to the original study to ensure the replication was suitable for remote field-site testing with speakers of Yélî Dnye. We made critical changes to the stimuli and materials (to test speakers of Yélî Dnye, rather than English), the instructions (we re-worked these significantly, and added practice tasks to optimize participants’ understanding), and the study format (shifting from a lab-based to a portable tablet-based setup). We discuss the requirement for acute sensitivity to linguistic, cultural, and environmental factors when adapting studies to test new populations.

  • Garcia, R., Garrido Rodriguez, G., & Kidd, E. (2021). Developmental effects in the online use of morphosyntactic cues in sentence processing: Evidence from Tagalog. Cognition, 216: 104859. doi:10.1016/j.cognition.2021.104859.

    Abstract

    Children must necessarily process their input in order to learn it, yet the architecture of the developing parsing system and how it interfaces with acquisition is unclear. In the current paper we report experimental and corpus data investigating adult and children's use of morphosyntactic cues for making incremental online predictions of thematic roles in Tagalog, a verb-initial symmetrical voice language of the Philippines. In Study 1, Tagalog-speaking adults completed a visual world eye-tracking experiment in which they viewed pictures of causative actions that were described by transitive sentences manipulated for voice and word order. The pattern of results showed that adults process agent and patient voice differently, predicting the upcoming noun in the patient voice but not in the agent voice, consistent with the observation of a patient voice preference in adult sentence production. In Study 2, our analysis of a corpus of child-directed speech showed that children heard more patient voice- than agent voice-marked verbs. In Study 3, 5-, 7-, and 9-year-old children completed a similar eye-tracking task as used in Study 1. The overall pattern of results suggested that, like the adults in Study 1, children process agent and patient voice differently in a manner that reflects the input distributions, with children developing towards the adult state across early childhood. The results are most consistent with theoretical accounts that identify a key role for input distributions in acquisition and language processing

    Additional information

    1-s2.0-S001002772100278X-mmc1.docx
  • Hahn, L. E., Benders, T., Fikkert, P., & Snijders, T. M. (2021). Infants’ implicit rhyme perception in child songs and its relationship with vocabulary. Frontiers in Psychology, 12: 680882. doi:10.3389/fpsyg.2021.680882.

    Abstract

    Rhyme perception is an important predictor for future literacy. Assessing rhyme
    abilities, however, commonly requires children to make explicit rhyme judgements on
    single words. Here we explored whether infants already implicitly process rhymes in
    natural rhyming contexts (child songs) and whether this response correlates with later
    vocabulary size. In a passive listening ERP study, 10.5 month-old Dutch infants were
    exposed to rhyming and non-rhyming child songs. Two types of rhyme effects were
    analysed: (1) ERPs elicited by the first rhyme occurring in each song (rhyme sensitivity)
    and (2) ERPs elicited by rhymes repeating after the first rhyme in each song (rhyme
    repetition). Only for the latter a tentative negativity for rhymes from 0 to 200 ms
    after the onset of the rhyme word was found. This rhyme repetition effect correlated
    with productive vocabulary at 18 months-old, but not with any other vocabulary
    measure (perception at 10.5 or 18 months-old). While awaiting future replication, the
    study indicates precursors of phonological awareness already during infancy and with
    ecologically valid linguistic stimuli.
  • Hellwig, B., Defina, R., Kidd, E., Allen, S. E. M., Davidson, L., & Kelly, B. F. (2021). Child language documentation: The sketch acquisition project. In G. Haig, S. Schnell, & F. Seifart (Eds.), Doing corpus-based typology with spoken language data: State of the art (pp. 29-58). Honolulu, HI: University of Hawai'i Press.

    Abstract

    This paper reports on an on-going project designed to collect comparable corpus data on child language and child-directed language in under-researched languages. Despite a long history of cross-linguistic research, there is a severe empirical bias within language acquisition research: Data is available for less than 2% of the world's languages, heavily skewed towards the larger and better-described languages. As a result, theories of language development tend to be grounded in a non-representative sample, and we know little about the acquisition of typologically-diverse languages from different families, regions, or sociocultural contexts. It is very likely that the reasons are to be found in the forbidding methodological challenges of constructing child language corpora under fieldwork conditions with their strict requirements on participant selection, sampling intervals, and amounts of data. There is thus an urgent need for proposals that facilitate and encourage language acquisition research across a wide variety of languages. Adopting a language documentation perspective, we illustrate an approach that combines the construction of manageable corpora of natural interaction with and between children with a sketch description of the corpus data – resulting in a set of comparable corpora and comparable sketches that form the basis for cross-linguistic comparisons.
  • Horan Skilton, A., & Peeters, D. (2021). Cross-linguistic differences in demonstrative systems: Comparing spatial and non-spatial influences on demonstrative use in Ticuna and Dutch. Journal of Pragmatics, 180, 248-265. doi:10.1016/j.pragma.2021.05.001.

    Abstract

    In all spoken languages, speakers use demonstratives – words like this and that – to refer to entities in their immediate environment. But which factors determine whether they use one demonstrative (this) or another (that)? Here we report the results of an experiment examining the effects of referent visibility, referent distance, and addressee location on the production of demonstratives by speakers of Ticuna (isolate; Brazil, Colombia, Peru), an Amazonian language with four demonstratives, and speakers of Dutch (Indo-European; Netherlands, Belgium), which has two demonstratives. We found that Ticuna speakers’ use of demonstratives displayed effects of addressee location and referent distance, but not referent visibility. By contrast, under comparable conditions, Dutch speakers displayed sensitivity only to referent distance. Interestingly, we also observed that Ticuna speakers consistently used demonstratives in all referential utterances in our experimental paradigm, while Dutch speakers strongly preferred to use definite articles. Taken together, these findings shed light on the significant diversity found in demonstrative systems across languages. Additionally, they invite researchers studying exophoric demonstratives to broaden their horizons by cross-linguistically investigating the factors involved in speakers’ choice of demonstratives over other types of referring expressions, especially articles.
  • Jones, G., Cabiddu, F., Andrews, M., & Rowland, C. F. (2021). Chunks of phonological knowledge play a significant role in children’s word learning and explain effects of neighborhood size, phonotactic probability, word frequency and word length. Journal of Memory and Language, 119: 104232. doi:10.1016/j.jml.2021.104232.

    Abstract

    A key omission from many accounts of children’s early word learning is the linguistic knowledge that the child has acquired up to the point when learning occurs. We simulate this knowledge using a computational model that learns phoneme and word sequence knowledge from naturalistic language corpora. We show how this simple model is able to account for effects of word length, word frequency, neighborhood density and phonotactic probability on children’s early word learning. Moreover, we show how effects of neighborhood density and phonotactic probability on word learning are largely influenced by word length, with our model being able to capture all effects. We then use predictions from the model to show how the ease by which a child learns a new word from maternal input is directly influenced by the phonological knowledge that the child has acquired from other words up to the point of encountering the new word. There are major implications of this work: models and theories of early word learning need to incorporate existing sublexical and lexical knowledge in explaining developmental change while well-established indices of word learning are rejected in favor of phonological knowledge of varying grain sizes.

    Additional information

    supplementary data research data
  • Kidd, L., & Rowland, C. F. (2021). The effect of language-focused professional development on the knowledge and behaviour of preschool practitioners. Journal of Early Childhood Literacy, 21(1), 27-59. doi:10.1177/1468798418803664.

    Abstract

    The purpose of this project was to investigate the effectiveness of a language-focused professional development programme on the knowledge and behaviour of preschool practitioners (sometimes called early years practitioners) in the UK. In Study 1 we determined whether the training received by practitioners is effective in improving their knowledge of how to support children’s language and communicative development. In Study 2 we tested whether trained practitioners, and practitioners from centres with embedded Language Champions, were able to implement the techniques they had been taught. For this, we video-recorded practitioners interacting, one to one, with 2- and 3–4-year-old children in their centres. We conclude that (1) practitioners retain the knowledge they have been taught, both about how children learn and about how to promote this learning, and that (2), in some respects, this knowledge translates well into practice; practitioners in centres with embedded Language Champions and trained practitioners used language-enriching behaviours when interacting with children more often than did untrained practitioners. We discuss how the translation of some techniques into overt behaviour could be made more effective

    Additional information

    Supplemental_material.pdf
  • Muhinyi, A., & Rowland, C. F. (2021). Contributions of abstract extratextual talk and interactive style to preschoolers’ vocabulary development. Journal of Child Language. Advance online publication. doi:10.1017/S0305000921000696.

    Abstract

    Caregiver abstract talk during shared reading predicts preschool-age children’s vocabulary development. However, previous research has focused on level of abstraction with less consideration of the style of extratextual talk. Here, we investigated the relation between these two dimensions of extratextual talk, and their contributions to variance in children’s vocabulary skills. Caregiver level of abstraction was associated with an interactive reading style. Controlling for socioeconomic status and child age, high interactivity predicted children’s concurrent vocabulary skills whereas abstraction did not. Controlling for earlier vocabulary skills, neither dimension of the extratextual talk predicted later vocabulary. Theoretical and practical relevance are discussed.
  • Parente, F., Conklin, K., Guy, J. M., & Scott, R. (2021). The role of empirical methods in investigating readers’ constructions of authorial creativity in literary reading. Language and Literature: International Journal of Stylistics, 30(1), 21-36. doi:10.1177/0963947020952200.

    Abstract

    The popularity of literary biographies and the importance publishers place on author publicity materials suggest the concept of an author’s creative intentions is important to readers’ appreciation of literary works. However, the question of how this kind of contextual information informs literary interpretation is contentious. One area of dispute concerns the extent to which readers’ constructions of an author’s creative intentions are text-centred and therefore can adequately be understood by linguistic evidence alone. The current study shows how the relationship between linguistic and contextual factors in readers’ constructions of an author’s creative intentions may be investigated empirically. We use eye-tracking to determine whether readers’ responses to textual features (changes to lexis and punctuation) are affected by prior, extra-textual prompts concerning information about an author’s creative intentions. We showed participants pairs of sentences from Oscar Wilde and Henry James while monitoring their eye movements. The first sentence was followed by a prompt denoting a different attribution (Authorial, Editorial/Publisher and Typographic) for the change that, if present, would appear in the second sentence. After reading the second sentence, participants were asked whether they had detected a change and, if so, to describe it. If the concept of an author’s creative intentions is implicated in literary reading this should influence participants’ reading behaviour and ability to accurately report a change based on the prompt. The findings showed that readers’ noticing of textual variants was sensitive to the prior prompt about its authorship, in the sense of producing an effect on attention and re-reading times. But they also showed that these effects did not follow the pattern predicted of them, based on prior assumptions about readers’ cultures. This last finding points to the importance, as well as the challenges, of further investigating the role of contextual information in readers’ constructions of an author’s creative intentions.
  • Räsänen, O., Seshadri, S., Lavechin, M., Cristia, A., & Casillas, M. (2021). ALICE: An open-source tool for automatic measurement of phoneme, syllable, and word counts from child-centered daylong recordings. Behavior Research Methods, 53, 818-835. doi:10.3758/s13428-020-01460-x.

    Abstract

    Recordings captured by wearable microphones are a standard method for investigating young children’s language environments. A key measure to quantify from such data is the amount of speech present in children’s home environments. To this end, the LENA recorder and software—a popular system for measuring linguistic input—estimates the number of adult words that children may hear over the course of a recording. However, word count estimation is challenging to do in a language-independent manner; the relationship between observable acoustic patterns and language-specific lexical entities is far from uniform across human languages. In this paper, we ask whether some alternative linguistic units, namely phone(me)s or syllables, could be measured instead of, or in parallel with, words in order to achieve improved cross-linguistic applicability and comparability of an automated system for measuring child language input. We discuss the advantages and disadvantages of measuring different units from theoretical and technical points of view. We also investigate the practical applicability of measuring such units using a novel system called Automatic LInguistic unit Count Estimator (ALICE) together with audio from seven child-centered daylong audio corpora from diverse cultural and linguistic environments. We show that language-independent measurement of phoneme counts is somewhat more accurate than syllables or words, but all three are highly correlated with human annotations on the same data. We share an open-source implementation of ALICE for use by the language research community, allowing automatic phoneme, syllable, and word count estimation from child-centered audio recordings.
  • De Rue, N., Snijders, T. M., & Fikkert, P. (2021). Contrast and conflict in Dutch vowels. Frontiers in Human Neuroscience, 15: 629648. doi:10.3389/fnhum.2021.629648.

    Abstract

    The nature of phonological representations has been extensively studied in phonology and psycholinguistics. While full specification is still the norm in psycholinguistic research, underspecified representations may better account for perceptual asymmetries. In this paper, we report on a mismatch negativity (MMN) study with Dutch listeners who took part in a passive oddball paradigm to investigate when the brain notices the difference between expected and observed vowels. In particular, we tested neural discrimination (indicating perceptual discrimination) of the tense mid vowel pairs /o/-/ø/ (place contrast), /e/-/ø/ (labiality or rounding contrast), and /e/-/o/ (place and labiality contrast). Our results show (a) a perceptual asymmetry for place in the /o/-/ø/ contrast, supporting underspecification of [CORONAL] and replicating earlier results for German, and (b) a perceptual asymmetry for labiality for the /e/-/ø/ contrast, which was not reported in the German study. A labial deviant [ø] (standard /e/) yielded a larger MMN than a deviant [e] (standard /ø/). No asymmetry was found for the two-feature contrast. This study partly replicates a similar MMN study on German vowels, and partly presents new findings indicating cross-linguistic differences. Although the vowel inventory of Dutch and German is to a large extent comparable, their (morpho)phonological systems are different, which is reflected in processing.

    Additional information

    supplementary material
  • Ruggeri, K., Većkalov, B., Bojanić, L., Andersen, T. L., Ashcroft-Jones, S., Ayacaxli, N., Barea-Arroyo, P., Berge, M. L., Bjørndal, L. D., Bursalıoğlu, A., Bühler, V., Čadek, M., Çetinçelik, M., Clay, G., Cortijos-Bernabeu, A., Damnjanović, K., Dugue, T. M., Esberg, M., Esteban-Serna, C., Felder, E. N. and 63 moreRuggeri, K., Većkalov, B., Bojanić, L., Andersen, T. L., Ashcroft-Jones, S., Ayacaxli, N., Barea-Arroyo, P., Berge, M. L., Bjørndal, L. D., Bursalıoğlu, A., Bühler, V., Čadek, M., Çetinçelik, M., Clay, G., Cortijos-Bernabeu, A., Damnjanović, K., Dugue, T. M., Esberg, M., Esteban-Serna, C., Felder, E. N., Friedemann, M., Frontera-Villanueva, D. I., Gale, P., Garcia-Garzon, E., Geiger, S. J., George, L., Girardello, A., Gracheva, A., Gracheva, A., Guillory, M., Hecht, M., Herte, K., Hubená, B., Ingalls, W., Jakob, L., Janssens, M., Jarke, H., Kácha, O., Kalinova, K. N., Karakasheva, R., Khorrami, P. R., Lep, Ž., Lins, S., Lofthus, I. S., Mamede, S., Mareva, S., Mascarenhas, M. F., McGill, L., Morales-Izquierdo, S., Moltrecht, B., Mueller, T. S., Musetti, M., Nelsson, J., Otto, T., Paul, A. F., Pavlović, I., Petrović, M. B., Popović, D., Prinz, G. M., Razum, J., Sakelariev, I., Samuels, V., Sanguino, I., Say, N., Schuck, J., Soysal, I., Todsen, A. L., Tünte, M. R., Vdovic, M., Vintr, J., Vovko, M., Vranka, M. A., Wagner, L., Wilkins, L., Willems, M., Wisdom, E., Yosifova, A., Zeng, S., Ahmed, M. A., Dwarkanath, T., Cikara, M., Lees, J., & Folke, T. (2021). The general fault in our fault lines. Nature Human Behaviour, 5, 1369-1380. doi:10.1038/s41562-021-01092-x.

    Abstract

    Pervading global narratives suggest that political polarization is increasing, yet the accuracy of such group meta-perceptions has been drawn into question. A recent US study suggests that these beliefs are inaccurate and drive polarized beliefs about out-groups. However, it also found that informing people of inaccuracies reduces those negative beliefs. In this work, we explore whether these results generalize to other countries. To achieve this, we replicate two of the original experiments with 10,207 participants across 26 countries. We focus on local group divisions, which we refer to as fault lines. We find broad generalizability for both inaccurate meta-perceptions and reduced negative motive attribution through a simple disclosure intervention. We conclude that inaccurate and negative group meta-perceptions are exhibited in myriad contexts and that informing individuals of their misperceptions can yield positive benefits for intergroup relations. Such generalizability highlights a robust phenomenon with implications for political discourse worldwide.

    Additional information

    supplementary information data via OSF
  • Von Holzen, K., & Bergmann, C. (2021). The development of infants’ responses to mispronunciations: A meta-analysis. Developmental Psychology, 57(1), 1-18. doi:10.1037/dev0001141.

    Abstract

    As they develop into mature speakers of their native language, infants must not only learn words but also the sounds that make up those words. To do so, they must strike a balance between accepting speaker dependent variation (e.g. mood, voice, accent), but appropriately rejecting variation when it (potentially) changes a word's meaning (e.g. cat vs. hat). This meta-analysis focuses on studies investigating infants' ability to detect mispronunciations in familiar words, or mispronunciation sensitivity. Our goal was to evaluate the development of infants' phonological representations for familiar words as well as explore the role of experimental manipulations related to theoretical questions and analysis choices. The results show that although infants are sensitive to mispronunciations, they still accept these altered forms as labels for target objects. Interestingly, this ability is not modulated by age or vocabulary size, suggesting that a mature understanding of native language phonology may be present in infants from an early age, possibly before the vocabulary explosion. These results also support several theoretical assumptions made in the literature, such as sensitivity to mispronunciation size and position of the mispronunciation. We also shed light on the impact of data analysis choices that may lead to different conclusions regarding the development of infants' mispronunciation sensitivity. Our paper concludes with recommendations for improved practice in testing infants' word and sentence processing on-line.
  • Wolf, M. C., Meyer, A. S., Rowland, C. F., & Hintz, F. (2021). The effects of input modality, word difficulty and reading experience on word recognition accuracy. Collabra: Psychology, 7(1): 24919. doi:10.1525/collabra.24919.

    Abstract

    Language users encounter words in at least two different modalities. Arguably, the most frequent encounters are in spoken or written form. Previous research has shown that – compared to the spoken modality – written language features more difficult words. Thus, frequent reading might have effects on word recognition. In the present study, we investigated 1) whether input modality (spoken, written, or bimodal) has an effect on word recognition accuracy, 2) whether this modality effect interacts with word difficulty, 3) whether the interaction of word difficulty and reading experience impacts word recognition accuracy, and 4) whether this interaction is influenced by input modality. To do so, we re-analysed a dataset that was collected in the context of a vocabulary test development to assess in which modality test words should be presented. Participants had carried out a word recognition task, where non-words and words of varying difficulty were presented in auditory, visual and audio-visual modalities. In addition to this main experiment, participants had completed a receptive vocabulary and an author recognition test to measure their reading experience. Our re-analyses did not reveal evidence for an effect of input modality on word recognition accuracy, nor for interactions with word difficulty or language experience. Word difficulty interacted with reading experience in that frequent readers were more accurate in recognizing difficult words than individuals who read less frequently. Practical implications are discussed.
  • Zaadnoordijk, L., Buckler, H., Cusack, R., Tsuji, S., & Bergmann, C. (2021). A global perspective on testing infants online: Introducing ManyBabies-AtHome. Frontiers in Psychology, 12: 703234. doi:10.3389/fpsyg.2021.703234.

    Abstract

    Online testing holds great promise for infant scientists. It could increase participant diversity, improve reproducibility and collaborative possibilities, and reduce costs for researchers and participants. However, despite the rise of platforms and participant databases, little work has been done to overcome the challenges of making this approach available to researchers across the world. In this paper, we elaborate on the benefits of online infant testing from a global perspective and identify challenges for the international community that have been outside of the scope of previous literature. Furthermore, we introduce ManyBabies-AtHome, an international, multi-lab collaboration that is actively working to facilitate practical and technical aspects of online testing as well as address ethical concerns regarding data storage and protection, and cross-cultural variation. The ultimate goal of this collaboration is to improve the method of testing infants online and make it globally available.
  • Alcock, K., Meints, K., & Rowland, C. F. (2020). The UK communicative development inventories: Words and gestures. Guilford, UK: J&R Press Ltd.
  • Alhama, R. G., Rowland, C. F., & Kidd, E. (2020). Evaluating word embeddings for language acquisition. In E. Chersoni, C. Jacobs, Y. Oseki, L. Prévot, & E. Santus (Eds.), Proceedings of the Workshop on Cognitive Modeling and Computational Linguistics (pp. 38-42). Stroudsburg, PA, USA: Association for Computational Linguistics (ACL). doi:10.18653/v1/2020.cmcl-1.4.

    Abstract

    Continuous vector word representations (or
    word embeddings) have shown success in cap-turing semantic relations between words, as evidenced by evaluation against behavioral data of adult performance on semantic tasks (Pereira et al., 2016). Adult semantic knowl-edge is the endpoint of a language acquisition process; thus, a relevant question is whether these models can also capture emerging word
    representations of young language learners. However, the data for children’s semantic knowledge across development is scarce. In this paper, we propose to bridge this gap by using Age of Acquisition norms to evaluate word embeddings learnt from child-directed input. We present two methods that evaluate word embeddings in terms of (a) the semantic neighbourhood density of learnt words, and (b) con-
    vergence to adult word associations. We apply our methods to bag-of-words models, and find that (1) children acquire words with fewer semantic neighbours earlier, and (2) young learners only attend to very local context. These findings provide converging evidence for validity of our methods in understanding the prerequisite features for a distributional model of word learning.
  • Ambridge, B., Rowland, C. F., & Gummery, A. (2020). Teaching the unlearnable: A training study of complex yes/no questions. Language and Cognition, 12(2), 385-410. doi:10.1017/langcog.2020.5.

    Abstract

    A central question in language acquisition is how children master sentence types that they have seldom, if ever, heard. Here we report the findings of a pre-registered, randomised, single-blind intervention study designed to test the prediction that, for one such sentence type, complex questions (e.g., Is the crocodile who’s hot eating?), children could combine schemas learned, on the basis of the input, for complex noun phrases (the [THING] who’s [PROPERTY]) and simple questions (Is [THING] [ACTION]ing?) to yield a complex-question schema (Is [the [THING] who’s [PROPERTY]] ACTIONing?). Children aged 4;2 to 6;8 (M = 5;6, SD = 7.7 months) were trained on simple questions (e.g., Is the bird cleaning?) and either (Experimental group, N = 61) complex noun phrases (e.g., the bird who’s sad) or (Control group, N = 61) matched simple noun phrases (e.g., the sad bird). In general, the two groups did not differ on their ability to produce novel complex questions at test. However, the Experimental group did show (a) some evidence of generalising a particular complex NP schema (the [THING] who’s [PROPERTY] as opposed to the [THING] that’s [PROPERTY]) from training to test, (b) a lower rate of auxiliary-doubling errors (e.g., *Is the crocodile who’s hot is eating?), and (c) a greater ability to produce complex questions on the first test trial. We end by suggesting some different methods – specifically artificial language learning and syntactic priming – that could potentially be used to better test the present account.
  • Ambridge, B., Rowland, C. F., Theakston, A. L., & Twomey, K. E. (2020). Introduction. In C. F. Rowland, A. L. Theakston, B. Ambridge, & K. E. Twomey (Eds.), Current Perspectives on Child Language Acquisition: How children use their environment to learn (pp. 1-7). Amsterdam: John Benjamins. doi:10.1075/tilar.27.int.
  • Amora, K. K., Garcia, R., & Gagarina, N. (2020). Tagalog adaptation of the Multilingual Assessment Instrument for Narratives: History, process and preliminary results. In N. Gagarina, & J. Lindgren (Eds.), New language versions of MAIN: Multilingual Assessment Instrument for Narratives – Revised (pp. 221-233).

    Abstract

    This paper briefly presents the current situation of bilingualism in the Philippines,
    specifically that of Tagalog-English bilingualism. More importantly, it describes the process of adapting the Multilingual Assessment Instrument for Narratives (LITMUS-MAIN) to Tagalog, the basis of Filipino, which is the country’s national language.
    Finally, the results of a pilot study conducted on Tagalog-English bilingual children and
    adults (N=27) are presented. The results showed that Story Structure is similar across the
    two languages and that it develops significantly with age.
  • Arshamian, A., Manko, P., & Majid, A. (2020). Limitations in odour simulation may originate from differential sensory embodiment. Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society of London, Series B: Biological Sciences, 375: 20190273. doi:10.1098/rstb.2019.0273.

    Abstract

    Across diverse lineages, animals communicate using chemosignals, but only humans communicate about chemical signals. Many studies have observed that compared with other sensory modalities, communication about smells is relatively rare and not always reliable. Recent cross-cultural studies, on the other hand, suggest some communities are more olfactorily oriented than previously supposed. Nevertheless, across the globe a general trend emerges where olfactory communication is relatively hard. We suggest here that this is in part because olfactory representations are different in kind: they have a low degree of embodiment, and are not easily expressed as primitives, thereby limiting the mental manipulations that can be performed with them. New exploratory data from Dutch children (9–12 year-olds) and adults support that mental imagery from olfaction is weak in comparison with vision and audition, and critically this is not affected by language development. Specifically, while visual and auditory imagery becomes more vivid with age, olfactory imagery shows no such development. This is consistent with the idea that olfactory representations are different in kind from representations from the other senses.

    Additional information

    Supplementary material
  • Bidgood, A., Pine, J. M., Rowland, C. F., & Ambridge, B. (2020). Syntactic representations are both abstract and semantically constrained: Evidence from children’s and adults’ comprehension and production/priming of the English passive. Cognitive Science, 44(9): e12892. doi:10.1111/cogs.12892.

    Abstract

    All accounts of language acquisition agree that, by around age 4, children’s knowledge of grammatical constructions is abstract, rather than tied solely to individual lexical items. The aim of the present research was to investigate, focusing on the passive, whether children’s and adults’ performance is additionally semantically constrained, varying according to the distance between the semantics of the verb and those of the construction. In a forced‐choice pointing study (Experiment 1), both 4‐ to 6‐year olds (N = 60) and adults (N = 60) showed support for the prediction of this semantic construction prototype account of an interaction such that the observed disadvantage for passives as compared to actives (i.e., fewer correct points/longer reaction time) was greater for experiencer‐theme verbs than for agent‐patient and theme‐experiencer verbs (e.g., Bob was seen/hit/frightened by Wendy). Similarly, in a production/priming study (Experiment 2), both 4‐ to 6‐year olds (N = 60) and adults (N = 60) produced fewer passives for experiencer‐theme verbs than for agent‐patient/theme‐experiencer verbs. We conclude that these findings are difficult to explain under accounts based on the notion of A(rgument) movement or of a monostratal, semantics‐free, level of syntax, and instead necessitate some form of semantic construction prototype account.

    Additional information

    Supplementary material
  • Byers-Heinlein, K., Bergmann, C., Davies, C., Frank, M., Hamlin, J. K., Kline, M., Kominsky, J., Kosie, J., Lew-Williams, C., Liu, L., Mastroberardino, M., Singh, L., Waddell, C. P. G., Zettersten, M., & Soderstrom, M. (2020). Building a collaborative psychological science: Lessons learned from ManyBabies 1. Canadian Psychology/Psychologie canadienne, 61(4), 349-363. doi:10.1037/cap0000216.

    Abstract

    The field of infancy research faces a difficult challenge: some questions require samples that are simply too large for any one lab to recruit and test. ManyBabies aims to address this problem by forming large-scale collaborations on key theoretical questions in developmental science, while promoting the uptake of Open Science practices. Here, we look back on the first project completed under the ManyBabies umbrella – ManyBabies 1 – which tested the development of infant-directed speech preference. Our goal is to share the lessons learned over the course of the project and to articulate our vision for the role of large-scale collaborations in the field. First, we consider the decisions made in scaling up experimental research for a collaboration involving 100+ researchers and 70+ labs. Next, we discuss successes and challenges over the course of the project, including: protocol design and implementation, data analysis, organizational structures and collaborative workflows, securing funding, and encouraging broad participation in the project. Finally, we discuss the benefits we see both in ongoing ManyBabies projects and in future large-scale collaborations in general, with a particular eye towards developing best practices and increasing growth and diversity in infancy research and psychological science in general. Throughout the paper, we include first-hand narrative experiences, in order to illustrate the perspectives of researchers playing different roles within the project. While this project focused on the unique challenges of infant research, many of the insights we gained can be applied to large-scale collaborations across the broader field of psychology.
  • Carrol, G., & Conklin, K. (2020). Is all formulaic language created equal? Unpacking the processing advantage for different types of formulaic sequences. Language and Speech, 63(1), 95-122. doi:10.1177/0023830918823230.

    Abstract

    Research into recurrent, highly conventionalized “formulaic” sequences has shown a processing advantage compared to “novel” (non-formulaic) language. Studies of individual types of formulaic sequence often acknowledge the contribution of specific factors, but little work exists to compare the processing of different types of phrases with fundamentally different properties. We use eye-tracking to compare the processing of three types of formulaic phrases—idioms, binomials, and collocations—and consider whether overall frequency can explain the advantage for all three, relative to control phrases. Results show an advantage, as evidenced through shorter reading times, for all three types. While overall phrase frequency contributes much of the processing advantage, different types of phrase do show additional effects according to the specific properties that are relevant to each type: frequency, familiarity, and decomposability for idioms; predictability and semantic association for binomials; and mutual information for collocations. We discuss how the results contribute to our understanding of the representation and processing of multiword lexical units more broadly.

    Additional information

    Supplementary materials
  • Casillas, M., Brown, P., & Levinson, S. C. (2020). Early language experience in a Tseltal Mayan village. Child Development, 91(5), 1819-1835. doi:10.1111/cdev.13349.

    Abstract

    Daylong at-home audio recordings from 10 Tseltal Mayan children (0;2–3;0; Southern Mexico) were analyzed for how often children engaged in verbal interaction with others and whether their speech environment changed with age, time of day, household size, and number of speakers present. Children were infrequently directly spoken to, with most directed speech coming from adults, and no increase with age. Most directed speech came in the mornings, and interactional peaks contained nearly four times the baseline rate of directed speech. Coarse indicators of children's language development (babbling, first words, first word combinations) suggest that Tseltal children manage to extract the linguistic information they need despite minimal directed speech. Multiple proposals for how they might do so are discussed.

    Additional information

    Tseltal-CLE-SuppMat.pdf
  • Casillas, M., & Hilbrink, E. (2020). Communicative act development. In K. P. Schneider, & E. Ifantidou (Eds.), Developmental and Clinical Pragmatics (pp. 61-88). Berlin: 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.
  • Cychosz, M., Romeo, R., Soderstrom, M., Scaff, C., Ganek, H., Cristia, A., Casillas, M., De Barbaro, K., Bang, J. Y., & Weisleder, A. (2020). Longform recordings of everyday life: Ethics for best practices. Behavior Research Methods, 52, 1951-1969. doi:10.3758/s13428-020-01365-9.

    Abstract

    Recent advances in large-scale data storage and processing offer unprecedented opportunities for behavioral scientists to collect and analyze naturalistic data, including from under-represented groups. Audio data, particularly real-world audio recordings, are of particular interest to behavioral scientists because they provide high-fidelity access to subtle aspects of daily life and social interactions. However, these methodological advances pose novel risks to research participants and communities. In this article, we outline the benefits and challenges associated with collecting, analyzing, and sharing multi-hour audio recording data. Guided by the principles of autonomy, privacy, beneficence, and justice, we propose a set of ethical guidelines for the use of longform audio recordings in behavioral research. This article is also accompanied by an Open Science Framework Ethics Repository that includes informed consent resources such as frequent participant concerns and sample consent forms.
  • Davies, C., McGillion, M., Rowland, C. F., & Matthews, D. (2020). Can inferencing be trained in preschoolers using shared book-reading? A randomised controlled trial of parents’ inference-eliciting questions on oral inferencing ability. Journal of Child Language, 47(3), 655-679. doi:10.1017/S0305000919000801.

    Abstract

    The ability to make inferences is essential for effective language comprehension. While inferencing training benefits reading comprehension in school-aged children (see Elleman, 2017, for a review), we do not yet know whether it is beneficial to support the development of these skills prior to school entry. In a pre-registered randomised controlled trial, we evaluated the efficacy of a parent-delivered intervention intended to promote four-year-olds’ oral inferencing skills during shared book-reading. One hundred children from socioeconomically diverse backgrounds were randomly assigned to inferencing training or an active control condition of daily maths activities. The training was found to have no effect on inferencing. However, inferencing measures were highly correlated with children's baseline language ability. This suggests that a more effective approach to scaffolding inferencing in the preschool years might be to focus on promoting vocabulary to develop richer and stronger semantic networks.
  • Donnelly, S., & Kidd, E. (2020). Individual differences in lexical processing efficiency and vocabulary in toddlers: A longitudinal investigation. Journal of Experimental Child Psychology, 192: 104781. doi:10.1016/j.jecp.2019.104781.

    Abstract

    Research on infants’ online lexical processing by Fernald, Perfors, and Marchman (2006) revealed substantial individual differences that are related to vocabulary development, such that infants with better lexical processing efficiency show greater vocabulary growth across time. Although it is clear that individual differences in lexical processing efficiency exist and are meaningful, the theoretical nature of lexical processing efficiency and its relation to vocabulary size is less clear. In the current study, we asked two questions: (a) Is lexical processing efficiency better conceptualized as a central processing capacity or as an emergent capacity reflecting a collection of word-specific capacities? and (b) Is there evidence for a causal role for lexical processing efficiency in early vocabulary development? In the study, 120 infants were tested on a measure of lexical processing at 18, 21, and 24 months, and their vocabulary was measured via parent report. Structural equation modeling of the 18-month time point data revealed that both theoretical constructs represented in the first question above (a) fit the data. A set of regression analyses on the longitudinal data revealed little evidence for a causal effect of lexical processing on vocabulary but revealed a significant effect of vocabulary size on lexical processing efficiency early in development. Overall, the results suggest that lexical processing efficiency is a stable construct in infancy that may reflect the structure of the developing lexicon.
  • Egger, J., Rowland, C. F., & Bergmann, C. (2020). Improving the robustness of infant lexical processing speed measures. Behavior Research Methods, 52, 2188-2201. doi:10.3758/s13428-020-01385-5.

    Abstract

    Visual reaction times to target pictures after naming events are an informative measurement in language acquisition research, because gaze shifts measured in looking-while-listening paradigms are an indicator of infants’ lexical speed of processing. This measure is very useful, as it can be applied from a young age onwards and has been linked to later language development. However, to obtain valid reaction times, the infant is required to switch the fixation of their eyes from a distractor to a target object. This means that usually at least half the trials have to be discarded—those where the participant is already fixating the target at the onset of the target word—so that no reaction time can be measured. With few trials, reliability suffers, which is especially problematic when studying individual differences. In order to solve this problem, we developed a gaze-triggered looking-while-listening paradigm. The trials do not differ from the original paradigm apart from the fact that the target object is chosen depending on the infant’s eye fixation before naming. The object the infant is looking at becomes the distractor and the other object is used as the target, requiring a fixation switch, and thus providing a reaction time. We tested our paradigm with forty-three 18-month-old infants, comparing the results to those from the original paradigm. The Gaze-triggered paradigm yielded more valid reaction time trials, as anticipated. The results of a ranked correlation between the conditions confirmed that the manipulated paradigm measures the same concept as the original paradigm.
  • Fazekas, J., Jessop, A., Pine, J., & Rowland, C. F. (2020). Do children learn from their prediction mistakes? A registered report evaluating error-based theories of language acquisition. Royal Society Open Science, 7(11): 180877. doi:10.1098/rsos.180877.

    Abstract

    Error-based theories of language acquisition suggest that children, like adults, continuously make and evaluate predictions in order to reach an adult-like state of language use. However, while these theories have become extremely influential, their central claim - that unpredictable
    input leads to higher rates of lasting change in linguistic representations – has scarcely been
    tested. We designed a prime surprisal-based intervention study to assess this claim.
    As predicted, both 5- to 6-year-old children (n=72) and adults (n=72) showed a pre- to post-test shift towards producing the dative syntactic structure they were exposed to in surprising sentences. The effect was significant in both age groups together, and in the child group separately when participants with ceiling performance in the pre-test were excluded. Secondary
    predictions were not upheld: we found no verb-based learning effects and there was only reliable evidence for immediate prime surprisal effects in the adult, but not in the child group. To our knowledge this is the first published study demonstrating enhanced learning rates for the same syntactic structure when it appeared in surprising as opposed to predictable contexts, thus
    providing crucial support for error-based theories of language acquisition.
  • Frost, R. L. A., Jessop, A., Durrant, S., Peter, M. S., Bidgood, A., Pine, J. M., Rowland, C. F., & Monaghan, P. (2020). Non-adjacent dependency learning in infancy, and its link to language development. Cognitive Psychology, 120: 101291. doi:10.1016/j.cogpsych.2020.101291.

    Abstract

    To acquire language, infants must learn how to identify words and linguistic structure in speech. Statistical learning has been suggested to assist both of these tasks. However, infants’ capacity to use statistics to discover words and structure together remains unclear. Further, it is not yet known how infants’ statistical learning ability relates to their language development. We trained 17-month-old infants on an artificial language comprising non-adjacent dependencies, and examined their looking times on tasks assessing sensitivity to words and structure using an eye-tracked head-turn-preference paradigm. We measured infants’ vocabulary size using a Communicative Development Inventory (CDI) concurrently and at 19, 21, 24, 25, 27, and 30 months to relate performance to language development. Infants could segment the words from speech, demonstrated by a significant difference in looking times to words versus part-words. Infants’ segmentation performance was significantly related to their vocabulary size (receptive and expressive) both currently, and over time (receptive until 24 months, expressive until 30 months), but was not related to the rate of vocabulary growth. The data also suggest infants may have developed sensitivity to generalised structure, indicating similar statistical learning mechanisms may contribute to the discovery of words and structure in speech, but this was not related to vocabulary size.

    Additional information

    Supplementary data
  • Frost, R., & Monaghan, P. (2020). Insights from studying statistical learning. In C. F. Rowland, A. L. Theakston, B. Ambridge, & K. E. Twomey (Eds.), Current Perspectives on Child Language Acquisition: How children use their environment to learn (pp. 65-89). Amsterdam: John Benjamins. doi:10.1075/tilar.27.03fro.

    Abstract

    Acquiring language is notoriously complex, yet for the majority of children this feat is accomplished with remarkable ease. Usage-based accounts of language acquisition suggest that this success can be largely attributed to the wealth of experience with language that children accumulate over the course of language acquisition. One field of research that is heavily underpinned by this principle of experience is statistical learning, which posits that learners can perform powerful computations over the distribution of information in a given input, which can help them to discern precisely how that input is structured, and how it operates. A growing body of work brings this notion to bear in the field of language acquisition, due to a developing understanding of the richness of the statistical information contained in speech. In this chapter we discuss the role that statistical learning plays in language acquisition, emphasising the importance of both the distribution of information within language, and the situation in which language is being learnt. First, we address the types of statistical learning that apply to a range of language learning tasks, asking whether the statistical processes purported to support language learning are the same or distinct across different tasks in language acquisition. Second, we expand the perspective on what counts as environmental input, by determining how statistical learning operates over the situated learning environment, and not just sequences of sounds in utterances. Finally, we address the role of variability in children’s input, and examine how statistical learning can accommodate (and perhaps even exploit) this during language acquisition.
  • Frost, R. L. A., Dunn, K., Christiansen, M. H., Gómez, R. L., & Monaghan, P. (2020). Exploring the "anchor word" effect in infants: Segmentation and categorisation of speech with and without high frequency words. PLoS One, 15(12): e0243436. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0243436.

    Abstract

    High frequency words play a key role in language acquisition, with recent work suggesting they may serve both speech segmentation and lexical categorisation. However, it is not yet known whether infants can detect novel high frequency words in continuous speech, nor whether they can use them to help learning for segmentation and categorisation at the same time. For instance, when hearing “you eat the biscuit”, can children use the high-frequency words “you” and “the” to segment out “eat” and “biscuit”, and determine their respective lexical categories? We tested this in two experiments. In Experiment 1, we familiarised 12-month-old infants with continuous artificial speech comprising repetitions of target words, which were preceded by high-frequency marker words that distinguished the targets into two distributional categories. In Experiment 2, we repeated the task using the same language but with additional phonological cues to word and category structure. In both studies, we measured learning with head-turn preference tests of segmentation and categorisation, and compared performance against a control group that heard the artificial speech without the marker words (i.e., just the targets). There was no evidence that high frequency words helped either speech segmentation or grammatical categorisation. However, segmentation was seen to improve when the distributional information was supplemented with phonological cues (Experiment 2). In both experiments, exploratory analysis indicated that infants’ looking behaviour was related to their linguistic maturity (indexed by infants’ vocabulary scores) with infants with high versus low vocabulary scores displaying novelty and familiarity preferences, respectively. We propose that high-frequency words must reach a critical threshold of familiarity before they can be of significant benefit to learning.

    Additional information

    data
  • Garcia, R., Roeser, J., & Höhle, B. (2020). Children’s online use of word order and morphosyntactic markers in Tagalog thematic role assignment: An eye-tracking study. Journal of Child Language, 47(3), 533-555. doi:10.1017/S0305000919000618.

    Abstract

    We investigated whether Tagalog-speaking children incrementally interpret the first noun
    as the agent, even if verbal and nominal markers for assigning thematic roles are given
    early in Tagalog sentences. We asked five- and seven-year-old children and adult
    controls to select which of two pictures of reversible actions matched the sentence they
    heard, while their looks to the pictures were tracked. Accuracy and eye-tracking data
    showed that agent-initial sentences were easier to comprehend than patient-initial
    sentences, but the effect of word order was modulated by voice. Moreover, our eyetracking
    data provided evidence that, by the first noun phrase, seven-year-old children
    looked more to the target in the agent-initial compared to the patient-initial conditions,
    but this word order advantage was no longer observed by the second noun phrase. The
    findings support language processing and acquisition models which emphasize the role
    of frequency in developing heuristic strategies (e.g., Chang, Dell, & Bock, 2006).
  • Garcia, R., & Kidd, E. (2020). The acquisition of the Tagalog symmetrical voice system: Evidence from structural priming. Language Learning and Development, 16(4), 399-425. doi:10.1080/15475441.2020.1814780.

    Abstract

    We report on two experiments that investigated the acquisition of the Tagalog symmetrical voice system, a typologically rare feature of Western Austronesian languages in which there are more than one basic transitive construction and no preference for agents to be syntactic subjects. In the experiments, 3-, 5-, and 7-year-old Tagalog-speaking children and adults completed a structural priming task that manipulated voice and word order, with the uniqueness of Tagalog allowing us to tease apart priming of thematic role order from that of syntactic roles. Participants heard a description of a picture showing a transitive action, and were then asked to complete a sentence of an unrelated picture using a voice-marked verb provided by the experimenter. Our results show that children gradually acquire an agent-before-patient preference, instead of having a default mapping of the agent to the first noun position. We also found an earlier mastery of the patient voice verbal and nominal marker configuration (patient is the subject), suggesting that children do not initially map the agent to the subject. Children were primed by thematic role but not syntactic role order, suggesting that they prioritize mapping of the thematic roles to sentence positions.
  • Goodhew, S. C., & Kidd, E. (2020). Bliss is blue and bleak is grey: Abstract word-colour associations influence objective performance even when not task relevant. Acta Psychologica, 206: 103067. doi:10.1016/j.actpsy.2020.103067.

    Abstract

    Humans associate abstract words with physical stimulus dimensions, such as linking upward locations with positive concepts (e.g., happy = up). These associations manifest both via subjective reports of associations and on objective performance metrics. Humans also report subjective associations between colours and abstract words (e.g., joy is linked to yellow). Here we tested whether such associations manifest on objective task performance, even when not task-relevant. Across three experiments, participants were presented with abstract words in physical colours that were either congruent with previously-reported subjective word-colour associations (e.g., victory in red and unhappy in blue), or were incongruent (e.g., victory in blue and unhappy in red). In Experiment 1, participants' task was to identify the valence of words. This congruency manipulation systematically affected objective task performance. In Experiment 2, participants completed two blocks, a valence-identification and a colour-identification task block. Both tasks produced congruency effects on performance, however, the results of the colour identification block could have reflected learning effects (i.e., associating the more common congruent colour with the word). This issue was rectified in Experiment 3, whereby participants completed the same two tasks as Experiment 2, but now matched congruent and incongruent pairs were used for both tasks. Again, both tasks produced reliable congruency effects. Item analyses in each experiment revealed that these effects demonstrated a degree of item specificity. Overall, there was clear evidence that at least some abstract word-colour pairings can systematically affect behaviour.
  • Hahn, L. E., Ten Buuren, M., Snijders, T. M., & Fikkert, P. (2020). Learning words in a second language while cycling and listening to children’s songs: The Noplica Energy Center. International Journal of Music in Early Childhood, 15(1), 95-108. doi:10.1386/ijmec_00014_1.

    Abstract

    Children’s songs are a great source for linguistic learning. Here we explore whether children can acquire novel words in a second language by playing a game featuring children’s songs in a playhouse. The playhouse is designed by the Noplica foundation (www.noplica.nl) to advance language learning through unsupervised play. We present data from three experiments that serve to scientifically proof the functionality of one game of the playhouse: the Energy Center. For this game, children move three hand-bikes mounted on a panel within the playhouse. Once the children cycle, a song starts playing that is accompanied by musical instruments. In our experiments, children executed a picture-selection task to evaluate whether they acquired new vocabulary from the songs presented during the game. Two of our experiments were run in the field, one at a Dutch and one at an Indian pre-school. The third experiment features data from a more controlled laboratory setting. Our results partly confirm that the Energy Center is a successful means to support vocabulary acquisition in a second language. More research with larger sample sizes and longer access to the Energy Center is needed to evaluate the overall functionality of the game. Based on informal observations at our test sites, however, we are certain that children do pick up linguistic content from the songs during play, as many of the children repeat words and phrases from the songs they heard. We will pick up upon these promising observations during future studies.
  • Hahn, L. E., Benders, T., Snijders, T. M., & Fikkert, P. (2020). Six-month-old infants recognize phrases in song and speech. Infancy, 25(5), 699-718. doi:10.1111/infa.12357.

    Abstract

    Infants exploit acoustic boundaries to perceptually organize phrases in speech. This prosodic parsing ability is well‐attested and is a cornerstone to the development of speech perception and grammar. However, infants also receive linguistic input in child songs. This study provides evidence that infants parse songs into meaningful phrasal units and replicates previous research for speech. Six‐month‐old Dutch infants (n = 80) were tested in the song or speech modality in the head‐turn preference procedure. First, infants were familiarized to two versions of the same word sequence: One version represented a well‐formed unit, and the other contained a phrase boundary halfway through. At test, infants were presented two passages, each containing one version of the familiarized sequence. The results for speech replicated the previously observed preference for the passage containing the well‐formed sequence, but only in a more fine‐grained analysis. The preference for well‐formed phrases was also observed in the song modality, indicating that infants recognize phrase structure in song. There were acoustic differences between stimuli of the current and previous studies, suggesting that infants are flexible in their processing of boundary cues while also providing a possible explanation for differences in effect sizes.

    Additional information

    infa12357-sup-0001-supinfo.zip
  • Havron, N., Bergmann, C., & Tsuji, S. (2020). Preregistration in infant research - A primer. Infancy, 25(5), 734-754. doi:10.1111/infa.12353.

    Abstract

    Preregistration, the act of specifying a research plan in advance, is becoming more common in scientific research. Infant researchers contend with unique problems that might make preregistration particularly challenging. Infants are a hard‐to‐reach population, usually yielding small sample sizes, they can only complete a limited number of trials, and they can be excluded based on hard‐to‐predict complications (e.g., parental interference, fussiness). In addition, as effects themselves potentially change with age and population, it is hard to calculate an a priori effect size. At the same time, these very factors make preregistration in infant studies a valuable tool. A priori examination of the planned study, including the hypotheses, sample size, and resulting statistical power, increases the credibility of single studies and adds value to the field. Preregistration might also improve explicit decision making to create better studies. We present an in‐depth discussion of the issues uniquely relevant to infant researchers, and ways to contend with them in preregistration and study planning. We provide recommendations to researchers interested in following current best practices.

    Additional information

    Preprint version on OSF
  • Isbilen, E. S., McCauley, S. M., Kidd, E., & Christiansen, M. H. (2020). Statistically induced chunking recall: A memory‐based approach to statistical learning. Cognitive Science, 44(7): e12848. doi:10.1111/cogs.12848.

    Abstract

    The computations involved in statistical learning have long been debated. Here, we build on work suggesting that a basic memory process, chunking , may account for the processing of statistical regularities into larger units. Drawing on methods from the memory literature, we developed a novel paradigm to test statistical learning by leveraging a robust phenomenon observed in serial recall tasks: that short‐term memory is fundamentally shaped by long‐term distributional learning. In the statistically induced chunking recall (SICR) task, participants are exposed to an artificial language, using a standard statistical learning exposure phase. Afterward, they recall strings of syllables that either follow the statistics of the artificial language or comprise the same syllables presented in a random order. We hypothesized that if individuals had chunked the artificial language into word‐like units, then the statistically structured items would be more accurately recalled relative to the random controls. Our results demonstrate that SICR effectively captures learning in both the auditory and visual modalities, with participants displaying significantly improved recall of the statistically structured items, and even recall specific trigram chunks from the input. SICR also exhibits greater test–retest reliability in the auditory modality and sensitivity to individual differences in both modalities than the standard two‐alternative forced‐choice task. These results thereby provide key empirical support to the chunking account of statistical learning and contribute a valuable new tool to the literature.
  • Jessop, A., & Chang, F. (2020). Thematic role information is maintained in the visual object-tracking system. Quarterly journal of experimental psychology, 73(1), 146-163. doi:10.1177%2F1747021819882842.

    Abstract

    Thematic roles characterise the functions of participants in events, but there is no agreement on how these roles are identified in the real world. In three experiments, we examined how role identification in push events is supported by the visual object-tracking system. Participants saw one to three push events in visual scenes with nine identical randomly moving circles. After a period of random movement, two circles from one of the push events and a foil object were given different colours and the participants had to identify their roles in the push with an active sentence, such as red pushed blue. It was found that the participants could track the agent and patient targets and generate descriptions that identified their roles at above chance levels, even under difficult conditions, such as when tracking multiple push events (Experiments 1–3), fixating their gaze (Experiment 1), performing a concurrent speeded-response task (Experiment 2), and when tracking objects that were temporarily invisible (Experiment 3). The results were consistent with previous findings of an average tracking capacity limit of four objects, individual differences in this capacity, and the use of attentional strategies. The studies demonstrated that thematic role information can be maintained when tracking the identity of visually identical objects, then used to map role fillers (e.g., the agent of a push event) into their appropriate sentence positions. This suggests that thematic role features are stored temporarily in the visual object-tracking system.
  • Kidd, E., & Donnelly, S. (2020). Individual differences in first language acquisition. Annual Review of Linguistics, 6, 319-340. doi:10.1146/annurev-linguistics-011619-030326.

    Abstract

    Humans vary in almost every dimension imaginable, and language is no
    exception. In this article, we review the past research that has focused on
    individual differences (IDs) in first language acquisition. We first consider
    how different theoretical traditions in language acquisition treat IDs, and
    we argue that a focus on IDs is important given its potential to reveal the
    developmental dynamics and architectural constraints of the linguistic system.
    We then review IDs research that has examined variation in children’s
    linguistic input, early speech perception, and vocabulary and grammatical
    development. In each case, we observe systematic and meaningful variation,
    such that variation in one domain (e.g., early auditory and speech
    processing) has meaningful developmental consequences for development
    in higher-order domains (e.g., vocabulary). The research suggests a high
    degree of integration across the linguistic system, in which development
    across multiple linguistic domains is tightly coupled.
  • Kidd, E., Arciuli, J., Christiansen, M. H., Isbilen, E. S., Revius, K., & Smithson, M. (2020). Measuring children’s auditory statistical learning via serial recall. Journal of Experimental Child Psychology, 200: 104964. doi:10.1016/j.jecp.2020.104964.

    Abstract

    Statistical learning (SL) has been a prominent focus of research in developmental and adult populations, guided by the assumption that it is a fundamental component of learning underlying higher-order cognition. In developmental populations, however, there have been recent concerns regarding the degree to which many current tasks reliably measure SL, particularly in younger children. In the current article, we present the results of two studies that measured auditory statistical learning (ASL) of linguistic stimuli in children aged 5–8 years. Children listened to 6 min of continuous syllables comprising four trisyllabic pseudowords. Following the familiarization phase, children completed (a) a two-alternative forced-choice task and (b) a serial recall task in which they repeated either target sequences embedded during familiarization or foils, manipulated for sequence length. Results showed that, although both measures consistently revealed learning at the group level, the recall task better captured learning across the full range of abilities and was more reliable at the individual level. We conclude that, as has also been demonstrated in adults, the method holds promise for future studies of individual differences in ASL of linguistic stimuli.
  • Kidd, E., Bigood, A., Donnelly, S., Durrant, S., Peter, M. S., & Rowland, C. F. (2020). Individual differences in first language acquisition and their theoretical implications. In C. F. Rowland, A. L. Theakston, B. Ambridge, & K. E. Twomey (Eds.), Current Perspectives on Child Language Acquisition: How children use their environment to learn (pp. 189-219). Amsterdam: John Benjamins. doi:10.1075/tilar.27.09kid.

    Abstract

    Much of Lieven’s pioneering work has helped move the study of individual differences to the centre of child language research. The goal of the present chapter is to illustrate how the study of individual differences provides crucial insights into the language acquisition process. In part one, we summarise some of the evidence showing how pervasive individual differences are across the whole of the language system; from gestures to morphosyntax. In part two, we describe three causal factors implicated in explaining individual differences, which, we argue, must be built into any theory of language acquisition (intrinsic differences in the neurocognitive learning mechanisms, the child’s communicative environment, and developmental cascades in which each new linguistic skill that the child has to acquire depends critically on the prior acquisition of foundational abilities). In part three, we present an example study on the role of the speed of linguistic processing on vocabulary development, which illustrates our approach to individual differences. The results show evidence of a changing relationship between lexical processing speed and vocabulary over developmental time, perhaps as a result of the changing nature of the structure of the lexicon. The study thus highlights the benefits of an individual differences approach in building, testing, and constraining theories of language acquisition.
  • Kyriacou, M., Conklin, K., & Thompson, D. (2020). Passivizability of idioms: Has the wrong tree been barked up? Language and Speech, 63(2), 404-435. doi:10.1177/0023830919847691.

    Abstract

    A growing number of studies support the partial compositionality of idiomatic phrases, while idioms are thought to vary in their syntactic flexibility. Some idioms, like kick the bucket, have been classified as inflexible and incapable of being passivized without losing their figurative interpretation (i.e., the bucket was kicked ≠ died). Crucially, this has never been substantiated by empirical findings. In the current study, we used eye-tracking to examine whether the passive forms of (flexible and inflexible) idioms retain or lose their figurative meaning. Active and passivized idioms (he kicked the bucket/the bucket was kicked) and incongruous active and passive control phrases (he kicked the apple/the apple was kicked) were inserted in sentences biasing the figurative meaning of the respective idiom (die). Active idioms served as a baseline. We hypothesized that if passivized idioms retain their figurative meaning (the bucket was kicked = died), they should be processed more efficiently than the control phrases, since their figurative meaning would be congruous in the context. If, on the other hand, passivized idioms lose their figurative interpretation (the bucket was kicked = the pail was kicked), then their meaning should be just as incongruous as that of both control phrases, in which case we would expect no difference in their processing. Eye movement patterns demonstrated a processing advantage for passivized idioms (flexible and inflexible) over control phrases, thus indicating that their figurative meaning was not compromised. These findings challenge classifications of idiom flexibility and highlight the creative nature of language.
  • Lingwood, J., Levy, R., Billington, J., & Rowland, C. F. (2020). Barriers and solutions to participation in family-based education interventions. International Journal of Social Research Methodology, 23(2), 185-198. doi:10.1080/13645579.2019.1645377.

    Abstract

    The fact that many sub-populations do not take part in research, especially participants fromlower socioeconomic (SES) backgrounds, is a serious problem in education research. Toincrease the participation of such groups we must discover what social, economic andpractical factors prevent participation, and how to overcome these barriers. In the currentpaper, we review the literature on this topic, before describing a case study that demonstratesfour potential solutions to four barriers to participation in a shared reading intervention forfamilies from lower SES backgrounds. We discuss the implications of our findings forfamily-based interventions more generally, and the difficulty of balancing strategies toencourage participation with adhering to the methodological integrity of a research study

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    supplemental material
  • Lingwood, J., Billington, J., & Rowland, C. F. (2020). Evaluating the effectiveness of a ‘real‐world’ shared reading intervention for preschool children and their families: A randomised controlled trial. Journal of Research in Reading, 43(3), 249-271. doi:10.1111/1467-9817.12301.

    Abstract

    Background: Shared reading interventions can impact positively on preschool children’s
    language development and on their caregiver’s attitudes/behaviours towards
    reading. However, a number of barriers may discourage families from engaging with
    these interventions, particularly families from lower socio-economic status (SES)
    backgrounds. We investigated how families from such backgrounds responded to an
    intervention designed explicitly to overcome these barriers.
    Methods: In a preregistered cluster randomised controlled trial, 85 lower SES families
    and their 3-year-old to 4-year-old children from 10 different preschools were randomly
    allocated to take part in The Reader’s Shared Reading programme
    (intervention) or an existing ‘Story Time’ group at a library (control) once a week
    for 8 weeks. Three outcome measures were assessed at baseline and post intervention:
    (1) attendance, (2) enjoyment of the reading groups and (3) caregivers’ knowledge of,
    attitudes and behaviours towards reading. A fourth children’s vocabulary – was
    assessed at baseline and 4 weeks post intervention.
    Results: Families were significantly more likely to attend the intervention group and
    rated it more favourably, compared with the control group. However, there were no
    significant effects on caregivers’ knowledge, attitudes and behaviours or on children’s
    language.
    Conclusion: The intervention was only successful in engaging families from disadvantaged
    backgrounds in shared reading. Implications for the use, duration and intensity
    of shared reading interventions are discussed.

    Additional information

    Data, scripts and output files
  • MacDonald, K., Räsänen, O., Casillas, M., & Warlaumont, A. S. (2020). Measuring prosodic predictability in children’s home language environments. In S. Denison, M. Mack, Y. Xu, & B. C. Armstrong (Eds.), Proceedings of the 42nd Annual Virtual Meeting of the Cognitive Science Society (CogSci 2020) (pp. 695-701). Montreal, QB: Cognitive Science Society.

    Abstract

    Children learn language from the speech in their home environment. Recent work shows that more infant-directed speech
    (IDS) leads to stronger lexical development. But what makes IDS a particularly useful learning signal? Here, we expand on an attention-based account first proposed by Räsänen et al. (2018): that prosodic modifications make IDS less predictable, and thus more interesting. First, we reproduce the critical finding from Räsänen et al.: that lab-recorded IDS pitch is less predictable compared to adult-directed speech (ADS). Next, we show that this result generalizes to the home language environment, finding that IDS in daylong recordings is also less predictable than ADS but that this pattern is much less robust than for IDS recorded in the lab. These results link experimental work on attention and prosodic modifications of IDS to real-world language-learning environments, highlighting some challenges of scaling up analyses of IDS to larger datasets that better capture children’s actual input.
  • The ManyBabies Consortium (2020). Quantifying sources of variability in infancy research using the infant-directed speech preference. Advances in Methods and Practices in Psychological Science, 30(1), 24-52. doi:10.1177/2515245919900809.

    Abstract

    Psychological scientists have become increasingly concerned with issues related to methodology and replicability, and infancy researchers in particular face specific challenges related to replicability: For example, high-powered studies are difficult to conduct, testing conditions vary across labs, and different labs have access to different infant populations. Addressing these concerns, we report on a large-scale, multisite study aimed at (a) assessing the overall replicability of a single theoretically important phenomenon and (b) examining methodological, cultural, and developmental moderators. We focus on infants’ preference for infant-directed speech (IDS) over adult-directed speech (ADS). Stimuli of mothers speaking to their infants and to an adult in North American English were created using seminaturalistic laboratory-based audio recordings. Infants’ relative preference for IDS and ADS was assessed across 67 laboratories in North America, Europe, Australia, and Asia using the three common methods for measuring infants’ discrimination (head-turn preference, central fixation, and eye tracking). The overall meta-analytic effect size (Cohen’s d) was 0.35, 95% confidence interval = [0.29, 0.42], which was reliably above zero but smaller than the meta-analytic mean computed from previous literature (0.67). The IDS preference was significantly stronger in older children, in those children for whom the stimuli matched their native language and dialect, and in data from labs using the head-turn preference procedure. Together, these findings replicate the IDS preference but suggest that its magnitude is modulated by development, native-language experience, and testing procedure.

    Additional information

    Open Practices Disclosure Open Data OSF
  • Muhinyi, A., Hesketh, A., Stewart, A. J., & Rowland, C. F. (2020). Story choice matters for caregiver extra-textual talk during shared reading with preschoolers. Journal of Child Language, 47(3), 633-654. doi:10.1017/S0305000919000783.

    Abstract



    This study aimed to examine the influence of the complexity of the story-book on caregiver extra-textual talk (i.e., interactions beyond text reading) during shared reading with preschool-age children. Fifty-three mother–child dyads (3;00–4;11) were video-recorded sharing two ostensibly similar picture-books: a simple story (containing no false belief) and a complex story (containing a false belief central to the plot, which provided content that was more challenging for preschoolers to understand). Book-reading interactions were transcribed and coded. Results showed that the complex stories facilitated more extra-textual talk from mothers, and a higher quality of extra-textual talk (as indexed by linguistic richness and level of abstraction). Although the type of story did not affect the number of questions mothers posed, more elaborative follow-ups on children's responses were provided by mothers when sharing complex stories. Complex stories may facilitate more and linguistically richer caregiver extra-textual talk, having implications for preschoolers’ developing language abilities.

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