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This August, the ChiLDlab will be moving to a new home at the University of Southern California, where our Principal Investigator, Alexis Wellwood, is joining the faculty. As such, we will no longer be running studies in Evanston, but we are excited to tell you about other opportunities to take part in research at Northwestern. The Child Studies Group registry, a collaboration between us and a select group of Northwestern University child development labs, will enable you and your children to hear about more study opportunities on campus. You can find out more, and sign up, click here to go to the Child Studies Group website.
For those families that have visited us, it has been an absolute pleasure having you in our lab and getting to know you! Besides providing valuable information for our research on language, having families like you in the lab is what made our work so fun and rewarding :)
Haley will present collaborative research with Alexis at the annual meeting of the Linguistic Society of America in early January. This research increases our understanding of how speakers integrate linguistic and visual information when evaluating dynamic scenes. In particular, it suggests that adults have highly detailed implicit knowledge of how quantifier words like more work, and it attempts to shed light on the nature of that knowledge. Currently, Haley is designing a follow-up study in a Cognitive Science fellowship directed by Alexis and Steve Franconeri of Northwestern's Visual Thinking lab. This project will investigate the finer-grained distinctions made in visual perception that she can recruit for further studies of the language-cognition interface.
Daniel's research with Alexis and a collaborator at the University of Cologne, Barbara Tomaszewicz, was presented at this year's Architectures and Mechanisms for Language Processing in Bilbao, Spain. Daniel's project investigates how people understand sentences with 'implicit negation' like you find in the marked adjective of an antonymic pair like tall/short. This research recalls earlier findings from cognitive psychology that negative words take longer to process than positive words, but extends it in interesting ways. The poster reports results from both English and Polish, establishing the crosslinguistic validity of the effect, as well as results from eye-tracking. This research will help us better understand the relationship between linguistic structure and non-linguistic cognition.
Haley reported on her joint work with Alexis at the annual meeting of the Cognitive Science Society in Philadelphia. This work investigates how people recruit visual information when they understand simple verbal comparatives like Ann jumped more than Bill did. In her poster, Haley described the results of two experiments investigating how vision is recruited while watching dynamic displays as a function of the choice of verb–move or jump–when the dimension of comparison is underspecified. That is, with higher, longer, or more times, it should be clear what the dimension is–height, duration, or number–but with just move more or jump more, the dimension seems like it might depend on the verb. Haley indeed found a difference between the verbs when the word more was used, but no difference with the other comparative words!
The Child Language Development Laboratory, affectionately known as the ChiLDlab, is celebrating the end of its first academic year! Last week we held a potluck party at Alexis' house to celebrate our accomplishments since September 2015. And what a year it has been! In just 9 short months, the lab was transformed from an idea and a couple of desktop computers into a bustling research hub for undergraduates, graduates, and faculty. This transformation was due in no small part to the creativity and dedication displayed by our lab's manager, Casey Colby, who will be moving into an expanded role next year that includes an emphasis on software development. Under her leadership, our team was able to design and implement multiple research studies belonging to no less than 7 distinct projects, welcome more than 300 children and undergraduate students to participate in those studies, publish an academic paper, and submit 3 further papers for publication. This summer we will relax the pace a little bit, taking some time to assess where we're at, and plan for an even better second year!
Rebecca has won the Northwestern Linguistic Department's Demoz prize, awarded in honor of the late professor Abraham Demoz (read about him here). Today, the prize recognizes outstanding contributions to the research and academic environment of linguistics at Northwestern by an undergraduate student. Rebecca certainly deserves it: since becoming a linguistics major only in 2015, Rebecca has presented original research in a graduate-level linguistics conference (the Semantics Workshop of the American Midwest and Prairies), and provided invaluable assistance in making the ChiLDlab a success. The award ceremony will take place tomorrow along with lunch in the Linguistics House classroom. All congratulations to Rebecca!
Rebecca Way has been working in the ChiLDlab since Fall 2015, and since then, has done an extraordinary amount of innovative work designing research materials, running research studies, and being generally and all-around awesome lab member. Today, Rebecca was awarded the Northwestern On-Campus Student Employee of the Year Award (SEOTY) in recognition of their accomplishments. Join us in congratulating our award-winning research assistant!
The fantastic designs of Yuko Nakatani (who also draws pictures to be used in research studies) have appeared on mugs! In blue, the ChiLDlab logo, and in red, an earlier prototype of the ChiLDlab logo, back by popular demand (that is: Haley)! Casey incorporated Yuko's drawings into the two design schemes. So far, we have only ordered a limited run for distributing to lab members. Everyone is pretty excited to have both their coffee and their ChiLDlab too!
ChiLDlab is excited to welcome our newest research assistant, Zoe Brockman. Zoe is a recent graduate of Northwestern's Creative Writing program. She is interested both in the fascinating ways that language can be used to make meaning, as well as how children acquire this ability. This quarter, she will be helping to run studies involving how children and adults understand words like most, more, tallest, and shorter. A big welcome to Zoe!
The lab will have a pot-luck holiday party this Friday, December 4th, at 4pm in Cresap 102-103. There is much to celebrate at the end of our very first quarter as a fully-functioning lab: in just 3 short months, the lab went from a 2-member team consisting of just Alexis and Casey, to a bustling team of 7! We designed and began running our first studies with both children and adults, and the results are coming in quickly. We are investigating how people understand expressions like more and most, tall and less tall, and how they think about simple kinds of events like jumping. We also celebrate Rita's accomplishments this quarter, as we wish her well on her study-abroad trip to Denmark!