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News from the language lab

Learning, Processing

Date: 3 November 2015

The Canberra Longitudinal Child Language (CLCL) project is in full swing  and has now has now almost recruited its entire sample of 100 families. Testing began in May 2015 when the first children were 9 months, and to date almost 50 have visited the lab at least once. Research assistants Lauren Morrison and Tara Spokes have been instrumental in administering testing and managing the technical details. 

The collection of the EEG data at nine months — a collaboration with Anne Cutler and Caroline Junge — has gone swimmingly. The lab team has tested a total of 35 children on the EEG task, and has managed to obtain sufficient data from all but one child, which is no small feat given how fussy nine-month-olds can be. The data from this part of the project will be the largest EEG dataset of its kind ever collected. Data collection continues on eye-tracking tasks throughout the next few years.

CoEDL collaborations

The Language Lab is currently involved in various collaborations with CoEDL members. Other than existing collaborations within Processing, these include reach across all three other programs, including:

(i)           Transdisciplinary grant (with Stephanie Goodhew, ANU, Mark Ellison, ANU): In this project investigates conceptual cueing effects (i.e., why reading ‘God’ directs attention upwards). Mark is working on computational ways to estimate the effect with large corpora, and Stephanie and Evan are testing the effects in different populations: (i) synaesthetes, and (ii) Mandarin-speakers. We are currently half-way through the project, with some promising data from the synaesthetes.

(ii)         On-line language processing in Murrinpatha (with Rachael Nordlinger, Melb, Stephen Levinson, MPI): This project investigates incremental language production in Murrinpatha, a free order language, using eye-tracking. Currently the lab team has piloted material with a MP speaker in Melbourne and plans to take the project into the field in early 2016.

(iii)       Cross Partner collaboration with LuCiD (PIs Caroline Rowland, Franklin Chang, Liverpool, PI Elena Lieven, Manchester, PI Morten Christiansen, Cornell): Parts of the CLCL have been integrated with a comparable study in Liverpool, such that it is collecting data that can be combined to yield sample sizes rarely seen in experimental acquisition research. 

(iv)        Structural priming in New Mexico Spanish (Catherine Travis, ANU, PI Rena Torres Cacoullos, Penn State): Evan collaborated with Catherine and Rena on a paper investigating within- and cross-language structural priming of sentential subjects in speakers of New Mexico Spanish. This is the first published paper on cross-language priming in naturalistic speech. The paper will appear in a special issue of Bilingualism: Language & Cognition in 2016.

(v)          Special issue of First Language on acquisition of indigenous languages in minority and traditional contexts: co-edited by Barbara Kelly, Evan Kidd, and Gillian Wigglesworth, this will appear in the November 2015 issue.  

Student Projects:

Sara Quinn (PhD student): Sara is currently completing her PhD on the role of pretend play in language acquisition, planning to submit on January 2016. She will stay on part-time in the lab next year to publish her thesis research as well as teach in the Research School of Psychology.

Sydney Kingstone (PhD student): Co-supervised with Jane Simpson, Sydney is conducting her PhD research on perceptual dialectology in Australian English.

Claudia Cialone (PhD student): Claudia began her PhD in 2015, and is planning on conducting a cross-cultural study on language and spatial conceptualisation with speakers of Binij Kun-wok and English.

Courtney Rogala (Honours student): Courtney conducted her honours thesis on the nature of joint attention in parent-child interaction during play.

Laya Jagadish (Honours student): Laya has conducted her honours thesis on child-directed speech during parent-child play.

Annie Pate (Honours student): Annie has conducted her honours thesis on cross-situational statistical learning, which is part of a collaboration with Paola Escudero and Karen Mulak at UWS).

Shanthi Kumarage (PhB student): Shanthi conducted a PhB project in Semester 1 on the role of prediction in on-line language processing in 2-year-olds.

  • Australian Government
  • The University of Queensland
  • Australian National University
  • The University of Melbourne
  • Western Sydney University