Publications

Displaying 1 - 100 of 199
  • Schreiner, M. S., Zettersten, M., Bergmann, C., Frank, M. C., Fritzsche, T., Gonzalez-Gomez, N., Hamlin, K., Kartushina, N., Kellier, D. J., Mani, N., Mayor, J., Saffran, J., Shukla, M., Silverstein, P., Soderstrom, M., & Lippold, M. (in press). Limited evidence of test-retest reliability in infant-directed speech preference in a large pre-registered infant experiment. Developmental Science.
  • Aravena-Bravo, P., Cristia, A., Garcia, R., Kotera, H., Nicolas, R. K., Laranjo, R., Arokoyo, B. E., Benavides-Varela, S., Benders, T., Boll-Avetisyan, N., Cychosz, M., Ben, R. D., Diop, Y., Durán-Urzúa, C., Havron, N., Manalili, M., Narasimhan, B., Omane, P. O., Rowland, C. F., Kolberg, L. S. Aravena-Bravo, P., Cristia, A., Garcia, R., Kotera, H., Nicolas, R. K., Laranjo, R., Arokoyo, B. E., Benavides-Varela, S., Benders, T., Boll-Avetisyan, N., Cychosz, M., Ben, R. D., Diop, Y., Durán-Urzúa, C., Havron, N., Manalili, M., Narasimhan, B., Omane, P. O., Rowland, C. F., Kolberg, L. S., Ssemata, A. S., Styles, S. J., Troncoso-Acosta, B., & Woon, F. T. (2024). Towards diversifying early language development research: The first truly global international summer/winter school on language acquisition (/L+/) 2021. Journal of Cognition and Development, 25(2), 242-260. doi:10.1080/15248372.2023.2231083.

    Abstract

    With a long-term aim of empowering researchers everywhere to contribute to work on language development, we organized the First Truly Global /L+/ International Summer/ Winter School on Language Acquisition, a free 5-day virtual school for early career researchers. In this paper, we describe the school, our experience organizing it, and lessons learned. The school had a diverse organizer team, composed of 26 researchers (17 from under represented areas: Subsaharan Africa, South and Southeast Asia, and Central and South America); and a diverse volunteer team, with a total of 95 volunteers from 35 different countries, nearly half from under represented areas. This helped world-wide Page 5 of 5 promotion of the school, leading to 958 registrations from 88 different countries, with 300 registrants (based in 63 countries, 80% from under represented areas) selected to participate in the synchronous aspects of the event. The school employed asynchronous (pre-recorded lectures, which were close-captioned) and synchronous elements (e.g., discussions to place the recorded lectures into participants' context; networking events) across three time zones. A post-school questionnaire revealed that 99% of participants enjoyed taking part in the school. Not with standing these positive quantitative outcomes, qualitative comments suggested we fell short in several areas, including the geographic diversity among lecturers and greater customization of contents to the participants’ contexts. Although much remains to be done to promote inclusivity in linguistic research, we hope our school will contribute to empowering researchers to investigate and publish on language acquisition in their home languages, to eventually result in more representative theories and empirical generalizations

    Additional information

    https://osf.io/fbnda
  • Bayram, F., Kubota, M., & Pereira Soares, S. M. (2024). Editorial: The next phase in heritage language studies: methodological considerations and advancements. Frontiers in Psychology, 15: 1392474. doi:10.3389/fpsyg.2024.1392474.
  • Çetinçelik, M., Rowland, C. F., & Snijders, T. M. (2024). Does the speaker’s eye gaze facilitate infants’ word segmentation from continuous speech? An ERP study. Developmental Science, 27(2): e13436. doi:10.1111/desc.13436.

    Abstract

    The environment in which infants learn language is multimodal and rich with social cues. Yet, the effects of such cues, such as eye contact, on early speech perception have not been closely examined. This study assessed the role of ostensive speech, signalled through the speaker's eye gaze direction, on infants’ word segmentation abilities. A familiarisation-then-test paradigm was used while electroencephalography (EEG) was recorded. Ten-month-old Dutch-learning infants were familiarised with audio-visual stories in which a speaker recited four sentences with one repeated target word. The speaker addressed them either with direct or with averted gaze while speaking. In the test phase following each story, infants heard familiar and novel words presented via audio-only. Infants’ familiarity with the words was assessed using event-related potentials (ERPs). As predicted, infants showed a negative-going ERP familiarity effect to the isolated familiarised words relative to the novel words over the left-frontal region of interest during the test phase. While the word familiarity effect did not differ as a function of the speaker's gaze over the left-frontal region of interest, there was also a (not predicted) positive-going early ERP familiarity effect over right fronto-central and central electrodes in the direct gaze condition only. This study provides electrophysiological evidence that infants can segment words from audio-visual speech, regardless of the ostensiveness of the speaker's communication. However, the speaker's gaze direction seems to influence the processing of familiar words.
  • Donnelly, S., Rowland, C. F., Chang, F., & Kidd, E. (2024). A comprehensive examination of prediction‐based error as a mechanism for syntactic development: Evidence from syntactic priming. Cognitive Science, 48(4): e13431. doi:10.1111/cogs.13431.

    Abstract

    Prediction-based accounts of language acquisition have the potential to explain several different effects in child language acquisition and adult language processing. However, evidence regarding the developmental predictions of such accounts is mixed. Here, we consider several predictions of these accounts in two large-scale developmental studies of syntactic priming of the English dative alternation. Study 1 was a cross-sectional study (N = 140) of children aged 3−9 years, in which we found strong evidence of abstract priming and the lexical boost, but little evidence that either effect was moderated by age. We found weak evidence for a prime surprisal effect; however, exploratory analyses revealed a protracted developmental trajectory for verb-structure biases, providing an explanation as for why prime surprisal effects are more elusive in developmental populations. In a longitudinal study (N = 102) of children in tightly controlled age bands at 42, 48, and 54 months, we found priming effects emerged on trials with verb overlap early but did not observe clear evidence of priming on trials without verb overlap until 54 months. There was no evidence of a prime surprisal effect at any time point and none of the effects were moderated by age. The results relating to the emergence of the abstract priming and lexical boost effects are consistent with prediction-based models, while the absence of age-related effects appears to reflect the structure-specific challenges the dative presents to English-acquiring children. Overall, our complex pattern of findings demonstrates the value of developmental data sets in testing psycholinguistic theory.

    Additional information

    table S1 and S2 appendix A, B, C and D
  • Kubota, M., Alonso, J. G., Anderssen, M., Jensen, I. N., Luque, A., Pereira Soares, S. M., Prystauka, Y., Vangsnes, Ø. A., Sandstedt, J. J., & Rothman, J. (2024). Bilectal exposure modulates neural signatures to conflicting grammatical properties: Norway as a natural laboratory. Language Learning, 74(2), 436-467. doi:10.1111/lang.12608.

    Abstract

    The current study investigated gender (control) and number (target) agreement processing in Northern and non-Northern Norwegians living in Northern Norway. Participants varied in exposure to Northern Norwegian (NN) dialect(s), where number marking differs from most other Norwegian dialects. In a comprehension task involving reading NN dialect writing, P600 effects for number agreement were significantly affected by NN exposure. The more exposure the NN nonnatives had, the larger the P600 was, driven by the presence of number agreement (ungrammatical in NN). In contrast, less exposure correlated to the inverse: P600 driven by the absence of number agreement (ungrammatical in most other dialects). The NN natives showed P600 driven by the presence of number agreement regardless of exposure. These findings suggests that bilectalism entails the representation of distinct mental grammars for each dialect. However, like all instances of bilingualism, bilectalism exists on a continuum whereby linguistic processing is modulated by linguistic experience.
  • Kumarage, S., Donnelly, S., & Kidd, E. (2024). A meta-analysis of syntactic priming experiments in children. Journal of Memory and Language, 138: 104532. doi:10.1016/j.jml.2024.104532.

    Abstract

    A substantial literature exists using the syntactic priming methodology with children to test hypotheses regarding the acquisition of syntax, under the assumption that priming effects reveal both the presence of syntactic knowledge and the underlying nature of learning mechanisms supporting the acquisition of grammar. Here we present the first meta-analysis of syntactic priming studies in children. We identified 37 eligible studies and extracted 108 effect sizes corresponding to 76 samples of 2,378 unique participants. Our analysis confirmed a medium-to-large syntactic priming effect. The overall estimate of the priming effect was a log odds ratio of 1.44 (Cohen’s d = 0.80). This is equivalent to a structure that occurs 50 % of the time when unprimed occurring 81 % of the time when primed. Several variables moderated the magnitude of priming in children, including (i) within- or between-subjects design, (ii) lexical overlap, (iii) structural alternation investigated and, (iv) the animacy configuration of syntactic arguments. There was little evidence of publication bias in the size of the main priming effect, however, power analyses showed that, while studies typically have enough power to identify the basic priming effect, they are typically underpowered when their focus is on moderators of priming. The results provide a foundation for future research, suggesting several avenues of enquiry.
  • Lai, J., Chan, A., & Kidd, E. (2024). Production of relative clauses in Cantonese-speaking children with and without Developmental Language Disorder. Brain and Language, 254: 105425. doi:10.1016/j.bandl.2024.105425.

    Abstract

    Developmental Language Disorder (DLD) has been explained as either a deficit deriving from an abstract representational deficit or as emerging from difficulties in acquiring and coordinating multiple interacting cues guiding learning. These competing explanations are often difficult to decide between when tested on European languages. This paper reports an experimental study of relative clause (RC) production in Cantonese-speaking children with and without DLD, which enabled us to test multiple developmental predictions derived from one prominent theory − emergentism. Children with DLD (N = 22; aged 6;6–9;7) were compared with age-matched typically-developing peers (N = 23) and language-matched, typically-developing children (N = 21; aged 4;7–7;6) on a sentence repetition task. Results showed that children’s production across multiple RC types was influenced by structural frequency, general semantic complexity, and the linear order of constituents, with the DLD group performing worse than their age-matched and language-matched peers. The results are consistent with the emergentist explanation of DLD.
  • Lutzenberger, H., Casillas, M., Fikkert, P., Crasborn, O., & De Vos, C. (2024). More than looks: Exploring methods to test phonological discrimination in the sign language Kata Kolok. Language Learning and Development. Advance online publication. doi:10.1080/15475441.2023.2277472.

    Abstract

    The lack of diversity in the language sciences has increasingly been criticized as it holds the potential for producing flawed theories. Research on (i) geographically diverse language communities and (ii) on sign languages is necessary to corroborate, sharpen, and extend existing theories. This study contributes a case study of adapting a well-established paradigm to study the acquisition of sign phonology in Kata Kolok, a sign language of rural Bali, Indonesia. We conducted an experiment modeled after the familiarization paradigm with child signers of Kata Kolok. Traditional analyses of looking time did not yield significant differences between signing and non-signing children. Yet, additional behavioral analyses (attention, eye contact, hand behavior) suggest that children who are signers and those who are non-signers, as well as those who are hearing and those who are deaf, interact differently with the task. This study suggests limitations of the paradigm due to the ecology of sign languages and the sociocultural characteristics of the sample, calling for a mixed-methods approach. Ultimately, this paper aims to elucidate the diversity of adaptations necessary for experimental design, procedure, and analysis, and to offer a critical reflection on the contribution of similar efforts and the diversification of the field.
  • Menks, W. M., Ekerdt, C., Lemhöfer, K., Kidd, E., Fernández, G., McQueen, J. M., & Janzen, G. (2024). Developmental changes in brain activation during novel grammar learning in 8-25-year-olds. Developmental Cognitive Neuroscience, 66: 101347. doi:10.1016/j.dcn.2024.101347.

    Abstract

    While it is well established that grammar learning success varies with age, the cause of this developmental change is largely unknown. This study examined functional MRI activation across a broad developmental sample of 165 Dutch-speaking individuals (8-25 years) as they were implicitly learning a new grammatical system. This approach allowed us to assess the direct effects of age on grammar learning ability while exploring its neural correlates. In contrast to the alleged advantage of children language learners over adults, we found that adults outperformed children. Moreover, our behavioral data showed a sharp discontinuity in the relationship between age and grammar learning performance: there was a strong positive linear correlation between 8 and 15.4 years of age, after which age had no further effect. Neurally, our data indicate two important findings: (i) during grammar learning, adults and children activate similar brain regions, suggesting continuity in the neural networks that support initial grammar learning; and (ii) activation level is age-dependent, with children showing less activation than older participants. We suggest that these age-dependent processes may constrain developmental effects in grammar learning. The present study provides new insights into the neural basis of age-related differences in grammar learning in second language acquisition.

    Additional information

    supplement
  • Papoutsi*, C., Zimianiti*, E., Bosker, H. R., & Frost, R. L. A. (2024). Statistical learning at a virtual cocktail party. Psychonomic Bulletin & Review, 31, 849-861. doi:10.3758/s13423-023-02384-1.

    Abstract

    * These two authors contributed equally to this study
    Statistical learning – the ability to extract distributional regularities from input – is suggested to be key to language acquisition. Yet, evidence for the human capacity for statistical learning comes mainly from studies conducted in carefully controlled settings without auditory distraction. While such conditions permit careful examination of learning, they do not reflect the naturalistic language learning experience, which is replete with auditory distraction – including competing talkers. Here, we examine how statistical language learning proceeds in a virtual cocktail party environment, where the to-be-learned input is presented alongside a competing speech stream with its own distributional regularities. During exposure, participants in the Dual Talker group concurrently heard two novel languages, one produced by a female talker and one by a male talker, with each talker virtually positioned at opposite sides of the listener (left/right) using binaural acoustic manipulations. Selective attention was manipulated by instructing participants to attend to only one of the two talkers. At test, participants were asked to distinguish words from part-words for both the attended and the unattended languages. Results indicated that participants’ accuracy was significantly higher for trials from the attended vs. unattended
    language. Further, the performance of this Dual Talker group was no different compared to a control group who heard only one language from a single talker (Single Talker group). We thus conclude that statistical learning is modulated by selective attention, being relatively robust against the additional cognitive load provided by competing speech, emphasizing its efficiency in naturalistic language learning situations.

    Additional information

    supplementary file
  • Di Pisa, G., Pereira Soares, S. M., Rothman, J., & Marinis, T. (2024). Being a heritage speaker matters: the role of markedness in subject-verb person agreement in Italian. Frontiers in Psychology, 15: 1321614. doi:10.3389/fpsyg.2024.1321614.

    Abstract

    This study examines online processing and offline judgments of subject-verb person agreement with a focus on how this is impacted by markedness in heritage speakers (HSs) of Italian. To this end, 54 adult HSs living in Germany and 40 homeland Italian speakers completed a self-paced reading task (SPRT) and a grammaticality judgment task (GJT). Markedness was manipulated by probing agreement with both first-person (marked) and third-person (unmarked) subjects. Agreement was manipulated by crossing first-person marked subjects with third-person unmarked verbs and vice versa. Crucially, person violations with 1st person subjects (e.g., io *suona la chitarra “I plays-3rd-person the guitar”) yielded significantly shorter RTs in the SPRT and higher accuracy in the GJT than the opposite error type (e.g., il giornalista *esco spesso “the journalist go-1st-person out often”). This effect is consistent with the claim that when the first element in the dependency is marked (first person), the parser generates stronger predictions regarding upcoming agreeing elements. These results nicely align with work from the same populations investigating the impact of morphological markedness on grammatical gender agreement, suggesting that markedness impacts agreement similarly in two distinct grammatical domains and that sensitivity to markedness is more prevalent for HSs.

    Additional information

    di_pisa_etal_2024_sup.DOCX
  • Pizarro-Guevara, J. S., & Garcia, R. (2024). Philippine Psycholinguistics. Annual Review of Linguistics, 10, 145-167. doi:10.1146/annurev-linguistics-031522-102844.

    Abstract

    Over the last decade, there has been a slow but steady accumulation of psycholinguistic research focusing on typologically diverse languages. In this review, we provide an overview of the psycholinguistic research on Philippine languages at the sentence level. We first discuss the grammatical features of these languages that figure prominently in existing research. We identify four linguistic domains that have received attention from language researchers and summarize the empirical terrain. We advance two claims that emerge across these different domains: (a) The agent-first pressure plays a central role in many of the findings, and (b) the generalization that the patient argument is the syntactically privileged argument cannot be reduced to frequency, but instead is an emergent phenomenon caused by the alignment of competing pressures toward an optimal candidate. We connect these language-specific claims to language-general theories of sentence processing.
  • Silverstein, P., Bergmann, C., & Syed, M. (Eds.). (2024). Open science and metascience in developmental psychology [Special Issue]. Infant and Child Development, 33(1).
  • Silverstein, P., Bergmann, C., & Syed, M. (2024). Open science and metascience in developmental psychology: Introduction to the special issue. Infant and Child Development, 33(1): e2495. doi:10.1002/icd.2495.
  • Stärk, K. (2024). The company language keeps: How distributional cues influence statistical learning for language. PhD Thesis, Radboud University Nijmegen, Nijmegen.
  • Alhama, R. G., Rowland, C. F., & Kidd, E. (2023). How does linguistic context influence word learning? Journal of Child Language, 50(6), 1374-1393. doi:10.1017/S0305000923000302.

    Abstract

    While there are well-known demonstrations that children can use distributional information to acquire multiple components of language, the underpinnings of these achievements are unclear. In the current paper, we investigate the potential pre-requisites for a distributional learning model that can explain how children learn their first words. We review existing literature and then present the results of a series of computational simulations with Vector Space Models, a type of distributional semantic model used in Computational Linguistics, which we evaluate against vocabulary acquisition data from children. We focus on nouns and verbs, and we find that: (i) a model with flexibility to adjust for the frequency of events provides a better fit to the human data, (ii) the influence of context words is very local, especially for nouns, and (iii) words that share more contexts with other words are harder to learn.
  • Barrios, A., & Garcia, R. (2023). Filipino children’s acquisition of nominal and verbal markers in L1 and L2 Tagalog. Languages, 8(3): 188. doi:10.3390/languages8030188.

    Abstract

    Western Austronesian languages, like Tagalog, have unique, complex voice systems that require the correct combinations of verbal and nominal markers, raising many questions about their learnability. In this article, we review the experimental and observational studies on both the L1 and L2 acquisition of Tagalog. The reviewed studies reveal error patterns that reflect the complex nature of the Tagalog voice system. The main goal of the article is to present a full picture of commission errors in young Filipino children’s expression of causation and agency in Tagalog by describing patterns of nominal marking and voice marking in L1 Tagalog and L2 Tagalog. It also aims to provide an overview of existing research, as well as characterize research on nominal and verbal acquisition, specifically in terms of research problems, data sources, and methodology. Additionally, we discuss the research gaps in at least fifty years’ worth of studies in the area from the 1960’s to the present, as well as ideas for future research to advance the state of the art.
  • Bergelson, E., Soderstrom, M., Schwarz, I.-C., Rowland, C. F., Ramírez-Esparza, N., Rague Hamrick, L., Marklund, E., Kalashnikova, M., Guez, A., Casillas, M., Benetti, L., Van Alphen, P. M., & Cristia, A. (2023). Everyday language input and production in 1,001 children from six continents. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, 120(52): 2300671120. doi:10.1073/pnas.2300671120.

    Abstract

    Language is a universal human ability, acquired readily by young children, whootherwise struggle with many basics of survival. And yet, language ability is variableacross individuals. Naturalistic and experimental observations suggest that children’slinguistic skills vary with factors like socioeconomic status and children’s gender.But which factors really influence children’s day-to-day language use? Here, weleverage speech technology in a big-data approach to report on a unique cross-culturaland diverse data set: >2,500 d-long, child-centered audio-recordings of 1,001 2- to48-mo-olds from 12 countries spanning six continents across urban, farmer-forager,and subsistence-farming contexts. As expected, age and language-relevant clinical risksand diagnoses predicted how much speech (and speech-like vocalization) childrenproduced. Critically, so too did adult talk in children’s environments: Children whoheard more talk from adults produced more speech. In contrast to previous conclusionsbased on more limited sampling methods and a different set of language proxies,socioeconomic status (operationalized as maternal education) was not significantlyassociated with children’s productions over the first 4 y of life, and neither weregender or multilingualism. These findings from large-scale naturalistic data advanceour understanding of which factors are robust predictors of variability in the speechbehaviors of young learners in a wide range of everyday contexts
  • Cabrelli, J., Chaouch-Orozco, A., González Alonso, J., Pereira Soares, S. M., Puig-Mayenco, E., & Rothman, J. (Eds.). (2023). The Cambridge handbook of third language acquisition. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. doi:10.1017/9781108957823.
  • Cabrelli, J., Chaouch-Orozco, A., González Alonso, J., Pereira Soares, S. M., Puig-Mayenco, E., & Rothman, J. (2023). Introduction - Multilingualism: Language, brain, and cognition. In J. Cabrelli, A. Chaouch-Orozco, J. González Alonso, S. M. Pereira Soares, E. Puig-Mayenco, & J. Rothman (Eds.), The Cambridge handbook of third language acquisition (pp. 1-20). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. doi:10.1017/9781108957823.001.

    Abstract

    This chapter provides an introduction to the handbook. It succintly overviews the key questions in the field of L3/Ln acquisition and summarizes the scope of all the chapters included. The chapter ends by raising some outstanding questions that the field needs to address.
  • Caplan, S., Peng, M. Z., Zhang, Y., & Yu, C. (2023). Using an Egocentric Human Simulation Paradigm to quantify referential and semantic ambiguity in early word learning. In M. Goldwater, F. K. Anggoro, B. K. Hayes, & D. C. Ong (Eds.), Proceedings of the 45th Annual Meeting of the Cognitive Science Society (CogSci 2023) (pp. 1043-1049).

    Abstract

    In order to understand early word learning we need to better understand and quantify properties of the input that young children receive. We extended the human simulation paradigm (HSP) using egocentric videos taken from infant head-mounted cameras. The videos were further annotated with gaze information indicating in-the-moment visual attention from the infant. Our new HSP prompted participants for two types of responses, thus differentiating referential from semantic ambiguity in the learning input. Consistent with findings on visual attention in word learning, we find a strongly bimodal distribution over HSP accuracy. Even in this open-ended task, most videos only lead to a small handful of common responses. What's more, referential ambiguity was the key bottleneck to performance: participants can nearly always recover the exact word that was said if they identify the correct referent. Finally, analysis shows that adult learners relied on particular, multimodal behavioral cues to infer those target referents.
  • Çetinçelik, M., Rowland, C. F., & Snijders, T. M. (2023). Ten-month-old infants’ neural tracking of naturalistic speech is not facilitated by the speaker’s eye gaze. Developmental Cognitive Neuroscience, 64: 101297. doi:10.1016/j.dcn.2023.101297.

    Abstract

    Eye gaze is a powerful ostensive cue in infant-caregiver interactions, with demonstrable effects on language acquisition. While the link between gaze following and later vocabulary is well-established, the effects of eye gaze on other aspects of language, such as speech processing, are less clear. In this EEG study, we examined the effects of the speaker’s eye gaze on ten-month-old infants’ neural tracking of naturalistic audiovisual speech, a marker for successful speech processing. Infants watched videos of a speaker telling stories, addressing the infant with direct or averted eye gaze. We assessed infants’ speech-brain coherence at stress (1–1.75 Hz) and syllable (2.5–3.5 Hz) rates, tested for differences in attention by comparing looking times and EEG theta power in the two conditions, and investigated whether neural tracking predicts later vocabulary. Our results showed that infants’ brains tracked the speech rhythm both at the stress and syllable rates, and that infants’ neural tracking at the syllable rate predicted later vocabulary. However, speech-brain coherence did not significantly differ between direct and averted gaze conditions and infants did not show greater attention to direct gaze. Overall, our results suggest significant neural tracking at ten months, related to vocabulary development, but not modulated by speaker’s gaze.

    Additional information

    supplementary material
  • Chang, F., Tatsumi, T., Hiranuma, Y., & Bannard, C. (2023). Visual heuristics for verb production: Testing a deep‐learning model with experiments in Japanese. Cognitive Science, 47(8): e13324. doi:10.1111/cogs.13324.

    Abstract

    Tense/aspect morphology on verbs is often thought to depend on event features like telicity, but it is not known how speakers identify these features in visual scenes. To examine this question, we asked Japanese speakers to describe computer-generated animations of simple actions with variation in visual features related to telicity. Experiments with adults and children found that they could use goal information in the animations to select appropriate past and progressive verb forms. They also produced a large number of different verb forms. To explain these findings, a deep-learning model of verb production from visual input was created that could produce a human-like distribution of verb forms. It was able to use visual cues to select appropriate tense/aspect morphology. The model predicted that video duration would be related to verb complexity, and past tense production would increase when it received the endpoint as input. These predictions were confirmed in a third study with Japanese adults. This work suggests that verb production could be tightly linked to visual heuristics that support the understanding of events.
  • Chen, A., Çetinçelik, M., Roncaglia-Denissen, M. P., & Sadakata, M. (2023). Native language, L2 experience, and pitch processing in music. Linguistic Approaches to Bilingualism, 13(2), 218-237. 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.
  • Cox, C., Bergmann, C., Fowler, E., Keren-Portnoy, T., Roepstorff, A., Bryant, G., & Fusaroli, R. (2023). A systematic review and Bayesian meta-analysis of the acoustic features of infant-directed speech. Nature Human Behaviour, 7, 114-133. 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
  • Defina, R., Allen, S. E. M., Davidson, L., Hellwig, B., Kelly, B. F., & Kidd, E. (2023). Sketch Acquisition Manual (SAM), Part I: The sketch corpus. Language Documentation and Conservation Special Publication, 28, 5-38. Retrieved from https://hdl.handle.net/10125/74719.

    Abstract

    This paper presents the first part of a guide for documenting and describing child language, child-directed language and socialization patterns in diverse languages and cultures. The guide is intended for anyone interested in working across child language and language documentation,
    including, for example, field linguists and language documenters, community language workers, child language researchers or graduate students. We assume some basic familiarity with language documentation principles and methods, and, based on this, provide step-by-step suggestions for
    collecting, analyzing and presenting child data. This first part of the guide focuses on constructing a sketch corpus that consists of minimally five hours of annotated and archived data and which documents communicative practices of children between the ages of 2 and 4.
  • Defina, R., Allen, S. E. M., Davidson, L., Hellwig, B., Kelly, B. F., & Kidd, E. (2023). Sketch Acquisition Manual (SAM), Part II: The acquisition sketch. Language Documentation and Conservation Special Publication, 28, 39-86. Retrieved from https://hdl.handle.net/10125/74720.

    Abstract

    This paper presents the second part of a guide for documenting and describing child language, child-directed language and socialization patterns in diverse languages and cultures. The guide is intended for anyone interested in working across child language and language documentation,
    including, for example, field linguists and language documenters, community language workers, child language researchers or graduate students. We assume some basic familiarity with language documentation principles and methods, and, based on this, provide step-by-step suggestions for
    collecting, analyzing and presenting child data. This second part of the guide focuses on developing a child language acquisition sketch. It takes the sketch corpus as its basis (which was introduced in the first part of this guide), and presents a model for analyzing and describing the corpus data.
  • Egger, J. (2023). Need for speed? The role of speed of processing in early lexical development. PhD Thesis, Radboud University Nijmegen, Nijmegen.
  • Garcia, R., Roeser, J., & Kidd, E. (2023). Finding your voice: Voice-specific effects in Tagalog reveal the limits of word order priming. Cognition, 236: 105424. doi:10.1016/j.cognition.2023.105424.

    Abstract

    The current research investigated structural priming in Tagalog, a symmetrical voice language containing rich verbal morphology that results in changes in mapping between syntactic positions and thematic roles. This grammatically rare feature, which results in multiple transitive structures that are balanced in terms of the grammatical status of their arguments, provides the opportunity to test whether word order priming is sensitive to the voice morphology of the verb. In three sentence priming experiments (Ns = 64), we manipulated whether the target-verb prompt carried the same voice as the verb in the prime sentence. In all experiments, priming occurred only when the prime and target had the same voice morphology. Additionally, we found that the strength of word order priming depends on voice: stronger priming effects were found for the voice morpheme associated with a more flexible word order. The findings are consistent with learning-based accounts where language-specific representations for syntax emerge across developmental time. We discuss the implications of these results in the context of Tagalog's grammar. The results reveal the value of crosslinguistic data for theory-testing, and the value of structural priming in determining the representational nature of linguistic structure.

    Additional information

    data and analysis scripts
  • Garcia, R., Albert, H. M. D., Bondoc, I. P., & Marzan, J. C. B. (2023). Collecting language acquisition data from understudied urban communities: A reply to Cristia et al. Journal of Child Language, 50(3), 522-526. doi:10.1017/S0305000922000721.

    Abstract

    In the target article, Cristia, Foushee, Aravena-Bravo, Cychosz, Scaff, and Casillas (2022) convincingly show the need to broaden the current language acquisition research base, not only in linguistic diversity, but also in terms of regions and cultural groups studied. In conducting acquisition research in understudied populations, such as in rural settings, the authors highlight the importance of using a multi-method approach. They present the challenges in adapting these methods to new settings and offer possible ways to promote this type of research. In this commentary, we extend the discussion to understudied urban communities, as we encounter several of the concerns raised in Cristia et al. when collecting observational and experimental language acquisition data from Metro Manila, Philippines. We first describe the community we study, the challenges and modifications needed for conducting research in this setting, and end with a discussion of possible strategies to promote research in communities with understudied populations.
  • 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.
  • Hellwig, B., Allen, S. E. M., Davidson, L., Defina, R., Kelly, B. F., & Kidd, E. (Eds.). (2023). The acquisition sketch project [Special Issue]. Language Documentation and Conservation Special Publication, 28.

    Abstract

    This special publication aims to build a renewed enthusiasm for collecting acquisition data across many languages, including those facing endangerment and loss. It presents a guide for documenting and describing child language and child-directed language in diverse languages and cultures, as well as a collection of acquisition sketches based on this guide. The guide is intended for anyone interested in working across child language and language documentation, including, for example, field linguists and language documenters, community language workers, child language researchers or graduate students.
  • Hellwig, B., Allen, S. E. M., Davidson, L., Defina, R., Kelly, B. F., & Kidd, E. (2023). Introduction: The acquisition sketch project. Language Documentation and Conservation Special Publication, 28, 1-3. Retrieved from https://hdl.handle.net/10125/74718.
  • Jago, L. S., Alcock, K., Meints, K., Pine, J. M., & Rowland, C. F. (2023). Language outcomes from the UK-CDI Project: Can risk factors, vocabulary skills and gesture scores in infancy predict later language disorders or concern for language development? Frontiers in Psychology, 14: 1167810. doi:10.3389/fpsyg.2023.1167810.

    Abstract

    At the group level, children exposed to certain health and demographic risk factors, and who have delayed language in early childhood are, more likely to have language problems later in childhood. However, it is unclear whether we can use these risk factors to predict whether an individual child is likely to develop problems with language (e.g., be diagnosed with a developmental language disorder). We tested this in a sample of 146 children who took part in the UK-CDI norming project. When the children were 15–18 months old, 1,210 British parents completed: (a) the UK-CDI (a detailed assessment of vocabulary and gesture use) and (b) the Family Questionnaire (questions about health and demographic risk factors). When the children were between 4 and 6  years, 146 of the same parents completed a short questionnaire that assessed (a) whether children had been diagnosed with a disability that was likely to affect language proficiency (e.g., developmental disability, language disorder, hearing impairment), but (b) also yielded a broader measure: whether the child’s language had raised any concern, either by a parent or professional. Discriminant function analyses were used to assess whether we could use different combinations of 10 risk factors, together with early vocabulary and gesture scores, to identify children (a) who had developed a language-related disability by the age of 4–6 years (20 children, 13.70% of the sample) or (b) for whom concern about language had been expressed (49 children; 33.56%). The overall accuracy of the models, and the specificity scores were high, indicating that the measures correctly identified those children without a language-related disability and whose language was not of concern. However, sensitivity scores were low, indicating that the models could not identify those children who were diagnosed with a language-related disability or whose language was of concern. Several exploratory analyses were carried out to analyse these results further. Overall, the results suggest that it is difficult to use parent reports of early risk factors and language in the first 2 years of life to predict which children are likely to be diagnosed with a language-related disability. Possible reasons for this are discussed.

    Additional information

    follow up questionnaire table S1
  • Jordanoska, I., Kocher, A., & Bendezú-Araujo, R. (2023). Introduction special issue: Marking the truth: A cross-linguistic approach to verum. Zeitschrift für Sprachwissenschaft, 42(3), 429-442. doi:10.1515/zfs-2023-2012.

    Abstract

    This special issue focuses on the theoretical and empirical underpinnings of truth-marking. The names that have been used to refer to this phenomenon include, among others, counter-assertive focus, polar(ity) focus, verum focus, emphatic polarity or simply verum. This terminological variety is suggestive of the wide range of ideas and conceptions that characterizes this research field. This collection aims to get closer to the core of what truly constitutes verum. We want to expand the empirical base and determine the common and diverging properties of truth-marking in the languages of the world. The objective is to set a theoretical and empirical baseline for future research on verum and related phenomena.
  • Jordanoska, I., Kocher, A., & Bendezú-Araujo, R. (Eds.). (2023). Marking the truth: A cross-linguistic approach to verum [Special Issue]. Zeitschrift für Sprachwissenschaft, 42(3). Retrieved from https://www.degruyter.com/journal/key/zfsw/42/3/html.
  • Kholodova, A., Peter, M., Rowland, C. F., Jacob, G., & Allen, S. E. M. (2023). Abstract priming and the lexical boost effect across development in a structurally biased language. Languages, 8: 264. doi:10.3390/languages8040264.

    Abstract

    The present study investigates the developmental trajectory of abstract representations for syntactic structures in children. In a structural priming experiment on the dative alternation in German, we primed children from three different age groups (3–4 years, 5–6 years, 7–8 years) and adults with double object datives (Dora sent Boots the rabbit) or prepositional object datives (Dora sent the rabbit to Boots). Importantly, the prepositional object structure in German is dispreferred and only rarely encountered by young children. While immediate as well as cumulative structural priming effects occurred across all age groups, these effects were strongest in the 3- to 4-year-old group and gradually decreased with increasing age. These results suggest that representations in young children are less stable than in adults and, therefore, more susceptible to adaptation both immediately and across time, presumably due to stronger surprisal. Lexical boost effects, in contrast, were not present in 3- to 4-year-olds but gradually emerged with increasing age, possibly due to limited working-memory capacity in the younger child groups.
  • Kidd, E., Arciuli, J., Christiansen, M. H., & Smithson, M. (2023). The sources and consequences of individual differences in statistical learning for language development. Cognitive Development, 66: 101335. doi:10.1016/j.cogdev.2023.101335.

    Abstract

    Statistical learning (SL)—sensitivity to statistical regularities in the environment—has been postulated to support language development. While even young infants are capable of using distributional statistics to learn in linguistic and non-linguistic domains, efforts to measure SL at the level of the individual and link it to language proficiency in individual differences designs have been mixed, which has at least in part been attributed to problems with task reliability. In the current study we present the first prospective longitudinal study of the relationship between both non-linguistic SL (measured with visual stimuli) and linguistic SL (measured with auditory stimuli) and language in a group of English-speaking children. One-hundred and twenty-one (N = 121) children in their first two years of formal schooling (Mage = 6;1 years, Range: 5;2 – 7;2) completed tests of visual SL (VSL) and auditory SL (ASL) and several control variables at time 1. Both forms of SL were then measured every 6 months for the next 18 months, and at the final testing session (time 4) their language proficiency was measured using a standardised test. The results showed that the reliability of the SL tasks increased across the course of the study. A series of path analyses showed that both VSL and ASL independently predicted individual differences in language proficiency at time 4. The evidence is consistent with the suggestion that, when measured reliably, an observable relationship between SL and language proficiency exists. Theoretical and methodological issues are discussed.

    Additional information

    data and code
  • Lai, J., Chan, A., & Kidd, E. (2023). Relative clause comprehension in Cantonese-speaking children with and without developmental language disorder. PLoS One, 18: e0288021. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0288021.

    Abstract

    Developmental Language Disorder (DLD), present in 2 out of every 30 children, affects primarily oral language abilities and development in the absence of associated biomedical conditions. We report the first experimental study that examines relative clause (RC) comprehension accuracy and processing (via looking preference) in Cantonese-speaking children with and without DLD, testing the predictions from competing domain-specific versus domain-general theoretical accounts. We compared children with DLD (N = 22) with their age-matched typically-developing (TD) children (AM-TD, N = 23) aged 6;6–9;7 and language-matched (and younger) TD children (YTD, N = 21) aged 4;7–7;6, using a referent selection task. Within-subject factors were: RC type (subject-RCs (SRCs) versus object-RCs (ORCs); relativizer (classifier (CL) versus relative marker ge3 RCs). Accuracy measures and looking preference to the target were analyzed using generalized linear mixed effects models. Results indicated Cantonese children with DLD scored significantly lower than their AM-TD peers in accuracy and processed RCs significantly slower than AM-TDs, but did not differ from the YTDs on either measure. Overall, while the results revealed evidence of a SRC advantage in the accuracy data, there was no indication of additional difficulty associated with ORCs in the eye-tracking data. All children showed a processing advantage for the frequent CL relativizer over the less frequent ge3 relativizer. These findings pose challenges to domain-specific representational deficit accounts of DLD, which primarily explain the disorder as a syntactic deficit, and are better explained by domain-general accounts that explain acquisition and processing as emergent properties of multiple converging linguistic and non-linguistic processes.

    Additional information

    S1 appendix
  • Lee, C., Jessop, A., Bidgood, A., Peter, M. S., Pine, J. M., Rowland, C. F., & Durrant, S. (2023). How executive functioning, sentence processing, and vocabulary are related at 3 years of age. Journal of Experimental Child Psychology, 233: 105693. doi:10.1016/j.jecp.2023.105693.

    Abstract

    There is a wealth of evidence demonstrating that executive function (EF) abilities are positively associated with language development during the preschool years, such that children with good executive functions also have larger vocabularies. However, why this is the case remains to be discovered. In this study, we focused on the hypothesis that sentence processing abilities mediate the association between EF skills and receptive vocabulary knowledge, in that the speed of language acquisition is at least partially dependent on a child’s processing ability, which is itself dependent on executive control. We tested this hypothesis in longitudinal data from a cohort of 3- and 4-year-old children at three age points (37, 43, and 49 months). We found evidence, consistent with previous research, for a significant association between three EF skills (cognitive flexibility, working memory [as measured by the Backward Digit Span], and inhibition) and receptive vocabulary knowledge across this age range. However, only one of the tested sentence processing abilities (the ability to maintain multiple possible referents in mind) significantly mediated this relationship and only for one of the tested EFs (inhibition). The results suggest that children who are better able to inhibit incorrect responses are also better able to maintain multiple possible referents in mind while a sentence unfolds, a sophisticated sentence processing ability that may facilitate vocabulary learning from complex input.

    Additional information

    table S1 code and data
  • Levshina, N., Namboodiripad, S., Allassonnière-Tang, M., Kramer, M., Talamo, L., Verkerk, A., Wilmoth, S., Garrido Rodriguez, G., Gupton, T. M., Kidd, E., Liu, Z., Naccarato, C., Nordlinger, R., Panova, A., & Stoynova, N. (2023). Why we need a gradient approach to word order. Linguistics, 61(4), 825-883. doi:10.1515/ling-2021-0098.

    Abstract

    This article argues for a gradient approach to word order, which treats word order preferences, both within and across languages, as a continuous variable. Word order variability should be regarded as a basic assumption, rather than as something exceptional. Although this approach follows naturally from the emergentist usage-based view of language, we argue that it can be beneficial for all frameworks and linguistic domains, including language acquisition, processing, typology, language contact, language evolution and change, and formal approaches. Gradient approaches have been very fruitful in some domains, such as language processing, but their potential is not fully realized yet. This may be due to practical reasons. We discuss the most pressing methodological challenges in corpus-based and experimental research of word order and propose some practical solutions.
  • Lingwood, J., Lampropoulou, S., De Bezena, C., Billington, J., & Rowland, C. F. (2023). Children’s engagement and caregivers’ use of language-boosting strategies during shared book reading: A mixed methods approach. Journal of Child Language, 50(6), 1436-1458. 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.
  • Monaghan, P., Donnelly, S., Alcock, K., Bidgood, A., Cain, K., Durrant, S., Frost, R. L. A., Jago, L. S., Peter, M. S., Pine, J. M., Turnbull, H., & Rowland, C. F. (2023). Learning to generalise but not segment an artificial language at 17 months predicts children’s language skills 3 years later. Cognitive Psychology, 147: 101607. doi:10.1016/j.cogpsych.2023.101607.

    Abstract

    We investigated whether learning an artificial language at 17 months was predictive of children’s natural language vocabulary and grammar skills at 54 months. Children at 17 months listened to an artificial language containing non-adjacent dependencies, and were then tested on their learning to segment and to generalise the structure of the language. At 54 months, children were then tested on a range of standardised natural language tasks that assessed receptive and expressive vocabulary and grammar. A structural equation model demonstrated that learning the artificial language generalisation at 17 months predicted language abilities – a composite of vocabulary and grammar skills – at 54 months, whereas artificial language segmentation at 17 months did not predict language abilities at this age. Artificial language learning tasks – especially those that probe grammar learning – provide a valuable tool for uncovering the mechanisms driving children’s early language development.

    Additional information

    supplementary data
  • Muhinyi, A., & Rowland, C. F. (2023). Contributions of abstract extratextual talk and interactive style to preschoolers’ vocabulary development. Journal of Child Language, 50(1), 198-213. 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.
  • Pereira Soares, S. M., Chaouch-Orozco, A., & González Alonso, J. (2023). Innovations and challenges in acquisition and processing methodologies for L3/Ln. In J. Cabrelli, A. Chaouch-Orozco, J. González Alonso, S. M. Pereira Soares, E. Puig-Mayenco, & J. Rothman (Eds.), The Cambridge handbook of third language acquisition (pp. 661-682). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. doi:10.1017/9781108957823.026.

    Abstract

    The advent of psycholinguistic and neurolinguistic methodologies has provided new insights into theories of language acquisition. Sequential multilingualism is no exception, and some of the most recent work on the subject has incorporated a particular focus on language processing. This chapter surveys some of the work on the processing of lexical and morphosyntactic aspects of third or further languages, with different offline and online methodologies. We also discuss how, while increasingly sophisticated techniques and experimental designs have improved our understanding of third language acquisition and processing, simpler but clever designs can answer pressing questions in our theoretical debate. We provide examples of both sophistication and clever simplicity in experimental design, and argue that the field would benefit from incorporating a combination of both concepts into future work.
  • Piai, V., & Eikelboom, D. (2023). Brain areas critical for picture naming: A systematic review and meta-analysis of lesion-symptom mapping studies. Neurobiology of Language, 4(2), 280-296. doi:10.1162/nol_a_00097.

    Abstract

    Lesion-symptom mapping (LSM) studies have revealed brain areas critical for naming, typically finding significant associations between damage to left temporal, inferior parietal, and inferior fontal regions and impoverished naming performance. However, specific subregions found in the available literature vary. Hence, the aim of this study was to perform a systematic review and meta-analysis of published lesion-based findings, obtained from studies with unique cohorts investigating brain areas critical for accuracy in naming in stroke patients at least 1 month post-onset. An anatomic likelihood estimation (ALE) meta-analysis of these LSM studies was performed. Ten papers entered the ALE meta-analysis, with similar lesion coverage over left temporal and left inferior frontal areas. This small number is a major limitation of the present study. Clusters were found in left anterior temporal lobe, posterior temporal lobe extending into inferior parietal areas, in line with the arcuate fasciculus, and in pre- and postcentral gyri and middle frontal gyrus. No clusters were found in left inferior frontal gyrus. These results were further substantiated by examining five naming studies that investigated performance beyond global accuracy, corroborating the ALE meta-analysis results. The present review and meta-analysis highlight the involvement of left temporal and inferior parietal cortices in naming, and of mid to posterior portions of the temporal lobe in particular in conceptual-lexical retrieval for speaking.

    Additional information

    data
  • Rossi, E., Pereira Soares, S. M., Prystauka, Y., Nakamura, M., & Rothman, J. (2023). Riding the (brain) waves! Using neural oscillations to inform bilingualism research. Bilingualism: Language and Cognition, 26(1), 202-215. 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.
  • Sander, J., Lieberman, A., & Rowland, C. F. (2023). Exploring joint attention in American Sign Language: The influence of sign familiarity. In M. Goldwater, F. K. Anggoro, B. K. Hayes, & D. C. Ong (Eds.), Proceedings of the 45th Annual Meeting of the Cognitive Science Society (CogSci 2023) (pp. 632-638).

    Abstract

    Children’s ability to share attention with another social partner (i.e., joint attention) has been found to support language development. Despite the large amount of research examining the effects of joint attention on language in hearing population, little is known about how deaf children learning sign languages achieve joint attention with their caregivers during natural social interaction and how caregivers provide and scaffold learning opportunities for their children. The present study investigates the properties and timing of joint attention surrounding familiar and novel naming events and their relationship to children’s vocabulary. Naturalistic play sessions of caretaker-child-dyads using American Sign Language were analyzed in regards to naming events of either familiar or novel object labeling events and the surrounding joint attention events. We observed that most naming events took place in the context of a successful joint attention event and that sign familiarity was related to the timing of naming events within the joint attention events. Our results suggest that caregivers are highly sensitive to their child’s visual attention in interactions and modulate joint attention differently in the context of naming events of familiar vs. novel object labels.
  • Slim, M. S., Lauwers, P., & Hartsuiker, R. J. (2023). How abstract are logical representations? The role of verb semantics in representing quantifier scope. Glossa Psycholinguistics, 2(1): 9. doi:10.5070/G6011175.

    Abstract

    Language comprehension involves the derivation of the meaning of sentences by combining the meanings of their parts. In some cases, this can lead to ambiguity. A sentence like Every hiker climbed a hill allows two logical representations: One that specifies that every hiker climbed a different hill and one that specifies that every hiker climbed the same hill. The interpretations of such sentences can be primed: Exposure to a particular reading increases the likelihood that the same reading will be assigned to a subsequent similar sentence. Feiman and Snedeker (2016) observed that such priming is not modulated by overlap of the verb between prime and target. This indicates that mental logical representations specify the compositional structure of the sentence meaning without conceptual meaning content. We conducted a close replication of Feiman and Snedeker’s experiment in Dutch and found no verb-independent priming. Moreover, a comparison with a previous, within-verb priming experiment showed an interaction, suggesting stronger verb-specific than abstract priming. A power analysis revealed that both Feiman and Snedeker’s experiment and our Experiment 1 were underpowered. Therefore, we replicated our Experiment 1, using the sample size guidelines provided by our power analysis. This experiment again showed that priming was stronger if a prime-target pair contained the same verb. Together, our experiments show that logical representation priming is enhanced if the prime and target sentence contain the same verb. This suggests that logical representations specify compositional structure and meaning features in an integrated manner.
  • Stärk, K., Kidd, E., & Frost, R. L. A. (2023). Close encounters of the word kind: Attested distributional information boosts statistical learning. Language Learning, 73(2), 341-373. 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
  • 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.
  • 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.

    Additional information

    Read author's response to comments
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Rinker, T., Papadopoulou, D., Ávila-Varela, D., Bosch, J., Castro, S., Olioumtsevits, K., Pereira Soares, S. M., Wodniecka, Z., & Marinis, T. (2022). Does multilingualism bring benefits?: What do teachers think about multilingualism? The Multilingual Mind: Policy Reports 2022, 3. doi:10.48787/kops/352-2-1m7py02eqd0b56.
  • 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, 44(3), 316-329. 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.

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  • 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.
  • 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.

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    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.

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    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.
  • 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.

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    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

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  • 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.

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