CURRENT RESEARCH PROJECTS

Social and Nonsocial Priming Effects on 12- to 15-Month-Olds’ Preferences for Infant-Directed Speech (PI: Tyler McFayden)

For this priming study, infants watch either a social or a nonsocial presentation (the PRIME) on a screen and are then given a checkerboard to watch; sometimes watching the checkerboard produces infant-directed speech and  other times, watching produces adult-directed speech. Either way, the infant controls the duration of the speech by her attention.

This project addresses the following research questions:

  • Do social and non-social events differentially prime infants' attention to language?

  • Can social priming be used to augment or alter a child’s preference for infant-directed speech?

Preschoolers’ Language Ability, Executive Functioning, Understanding of the Nature of Language, Social Cognition, and Academic Skills (PI: Dr. Vanessa Diaz)

In this project we are interested in the factors during preschool that predict children’s readiness to begin elementary school. We are interested in both cognitive and linguistic factors that make it easier for children to do well in school, such as literacy, language proficiency, and early academic skills. We are interested in how these processes are similar or different in children that are exposed to one versus more than one language.

Participant Recruitment: children 3-4 years of age.  

All languages are welcomed and desired!

Girls Launch: Who is Smart? Who is a Scientist? (PI: Dr. Vanessa Diaz)

Recent evidence (Bian, Leslie, & Cimpian; 2017) has shown that gender-based stereotypes around intelligence manifest themselves by the end of kindergarten, with almost-6-year-old girls more likely to choose men than women when told to point to a “really, really smart person.” This finding was related to girls being less likely than boys to choose an activity for “children who are really, really smart.”

With Girls Launch, we hope to expose kindergarten-aged children to interactive science and engineering presentations by Virginia Tech female graduate and undergraduate students. We will assess gender-based stereotypes at the beginning of the school year and then again at the end of the year, both in the classrooms receiving the visits from graduate and undergraduate students and in a control group.

Participant Recruitment: Kindergarten students (ages 5 or 6)

Do Socioeconomic Status and Maternal Sensitivity Moderate the Relationship Between Multisensory Integration and Emerging Language in Toddlers? (PI: Madeleine Bruce)

For this study, we are looking at 24-month-olds’ multisensory integration abilities as they impact language outcomes. This study additionally seeks to understand how the relationship between multisensory integration abilities and language may be impacted by parenting style and socio-economic status.

How Do One-Year-Olds’ Brains Process Social + Non-social Sounds? (PI: Madeleine Bruce)

This study will look at the way that 1-year-olds’ brains respond to sounds like speech and noise. We will use a safe, non-invasive cap that is placed on the infant’s head (fNIRS) that will allow us to see changes in brain activity depending on whether the infant is paying attention or not.

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