Here is a list of our current studies. Please check back to see if your child might be currently eligible for one of these ongoing studies!

 
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How do children focus their attention from moment-to-moment? Is focused attention related to executive functioning and word learning?

One of the biggest tasks for early elementary children is adjusting to school. School places unique demands on children including needing them to pay attention…even when things get boring. We’re interested in whether we can measure attention in children using our eye-tracker. Previous research has studied this in adults by measuring pupil size while adults are trying to focus their attention. We want to see if we can also use pupil size to measure how children focus their attention. For this project, children play four different games, one to test attention, one word learning, one working memory, and one inhibition control. We will compare their results on these games to learn more about the processes of attention in children.

We are currently seeking 5 to 7-year olds to participate. Visit our sign up page to find out how to participate.

 

Does predictability affect word learning and generalization? Does This relationship change with age?

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While learning language, children come across many things that are slightly different in appearance but have the same name- say, a golden retriever and a pug both being labeled, “dog.” We would like to know the role of predictability in this type of generalization. In the lab, we show children a video where novel objects are revealed in a predictable or unpredictable sequence then labeled with novel words. We test to see if children learn these names for the objects using eye-tracking software. Then we introduce similar, different colored objects and see if children can generalize the names to those as well. Findings from this study will contribute to our understanding of language acquisition.

We are currently seeking 18-month olds to 3 and a half year olds to participate. Visit our sign up page to find out how to participate.


Living lab initiative

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We have partnered with the Children's Museum of Phoenix Living Laboratory Initiative to conduct our research. We are there Wednesdays from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. and Fridays from 9:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. studying how children learn the meanings of words. Come by and see us if you are at the museum!

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How do children figure out the right meanings of words? 

When children learn words, they are likely to hear multiple words and see multiple possible things in the world that those words refer to. In these ambiguous situations, how do children figure out the right meanings of words? Our lab is working to understand how children track the co-occurrences between words and objects when learning words from ambiguous situations. For these studies, children are presented with several pictures of novel objects on a computer and they hear the made up names for these objects. We then test to see if children were able to pair the names with objects based on which ones were more likely to occur together. Findings from the studies will help us to better understand how young children learn words in their busy environments.