CUNY 2018

Here are my abstract and poster for CUNY 2018.

Our study evaluated whether listeners can use spatial deixis (e.g., this, that) to predict a speaker’s likely referent. Adults and 5-year-olds viewed scenes while listening to deictic sentences (e.g., Look at that beautiful baby) and neutral sentences (e.g., Look at the beautiful baby). We found that both adults and children used deixis to predict the plurality of the referent, but only adults used deixis to predict the proximity of the referent (e.g., using this to anticipate a referents proximal to the speaker). In sum, our findings reveal specific developmental changes in how prediction occurs during language processing.

Looking forward to next year!

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CUNY 2017

Here are my abstract and poster for CUNY 2017.

Our experiment was a first attempt to test a direct, causal relation between prediction and learning. We find that prediction itself doesn’t explain how children learn novel words, but 3-year-olds and 4-year-olds who predict and redirect attention toward the novel referent were more successful in learning. That being said, learning 12 novel words in just a few minutes was clearly difficult for children, as indicated by their low accuracy at test. In sum, further experiments are needed to evaluate the role of prediction in learning, and to clarify what other factors (e.g., cognitive control) are involved during learning.

It was a great time, as always, despite the snow!

Looking forward to CUNY 2018!

rochester fNIRS workshop

It’s been a long time since my last post (tisk tisk!) so here I am, catching up.

Last week one of my advisors, Lauren Emberson, hosted an fNIRS workshop at the University of Rochester. fNIRS (functional near-infrared spectroscopy) is a non-invasive imaging technique used to measure the metabolic activity in the cortex. (For a great review, see Aslin, 2012.) Basically, when areas of the cortex are more active, this requires additional metabolic support, so more oxygenated hemoglobin is transferred to the location of activation. Light is absorbed differentially for oxygenated hemoglobin and deoxygenated hemoglobin, so our measure is essentially how much light the cortex in an approximate area is absorbing during x measurement time. (Note: I say “approximate” because one of the downsides of current fNIRS systems is low spatial resolution, as compared to fMRI, so we can’t make super exact claims about cortical areas.) fNIRS is an excellent method to use with infants, because the imaging doesn’t require rigid head stabilization. Infants wear a cap (similar to EEG) and can sit on their parent’s lap while watching+/listening to audio+/visual stimuli.

This was a great opportunity – both to learn more about the fNIRS methodology and recent literature, but also to bond with my future labmates. Here are a few pictures from the trip:

IMG_6900  IMG_6935

BUCLD 2014

This year, I gave a talk on children’s comprehension of truth-functional negation at BUCLD.

The main point of my talk is that pragmatic support is important for processing the negative form, but other factors (e.g., processing demands) play a role as well. We found that 3-year-olds interpret negation incrementally with supportive discourse context. However, we found that 2-year-olds had difficulty switching flexibly between affirmative and negative statements (Study 2) and only successfully comprehended both forms in a blocked design with affirmative trials first (Study 3).

Here are slides for reference and here is the complete abstract. I’m currently working on writing this work up for publication with Roman Feiman and Jesse Snedeker, so stay tuned for the manuscript!