OUR RESEARCH

Longitudinal study!

How do early acquired cognitive skills relate to individual differences in language development?

We’re very excited about our longitudinal study!  Families that participate may even be visited by our new mobile van!  The purpose of this project is to learn how skills for language and thinking that babies acquire very early in life are related to individual differences in language development through the preschool years ( from 2 to 60 months).   We will be following one group of full-term babies and another group of preterm babies.  We’ll collect several types of observations. These include: annual surveys of information about your household, periodic recordings of speech that your baby hears, tests of language and thinking, assessments of your child’s hearing, parental reports on your child’s language development, and standardized tests of your child’s language development.  Although there is no actual individual assessment of the children going through the study, a better understanding of full-term and preterm development may help others identify and treat babies who are not developing as expected.
Does speaker accuracy make a difference to babies?

Do toddlers select who they learn from?

To start using language to communicate, children need to learn correct word meanings.  However, not all people around them are equally knowledgeable or sincere (for example, siblings during play might purposefully use wrong words).  How do young toddlers decide who to learn from?  We studied 18-month-old toddlers' looking behavior, to investigate how they learn words from accurate and inaccurate speakers.  Speakers demonstrated their knowledge showing familiar toys to the toddlers and naming them either correctly or incorrectly.  We found that toddlers learned new words from the accurate speaker significantly better than from the inaccurate speaker.  Our findings suggest that even very young children already have the capacity to keep track of speakers’ accuracy and to selectively pay more attention to those who are reliable.    

In furthering our investigation into the question of who young toddlers learn may learn from, we're presenting the same familiar objects to the toddlers, but naming them correctly or incorrectly in the form of a question.  We're wondering if the 18-month-olds will tend to learn more from the incorrect speaker if they sense they weren't intentionally giving unreliable information.


How do babies recognize words in fluent speech?
Mispronunciation
Sometimes when babies begin to talk, they don’t pronounce all the sounds in a word correctly (for
example, saying “fish” like “fiss”). Does this mean that they don’t know how words are supposed to sound? In our studies we test whether babies can tell if you mispronounce the name of an object that they know.  We showed 18-20 month olds pairs of objects, some of which are familiar objects (like a bird) and some of which are unfamiliar (like an hourglass). Then we asked them to look at one (“Find the bird!”), but sometimes we mispronounced the word (“Find the birf!”). We have found that 18 – 20 month old babies can tell when you mispronounce something and the beginning of the word is different.  They are also able tell when the ending sound of the word is different. So even if babies say words incorrectly themselves sometimes, they know what the words are supposed to sound like.  We’re now trying this with 14 – 15 month olds.
















Some of Our Selected Periodical and Conference Proceeding Publications

Molina Onario, G.C., & Morgan, J.L. ( in press). Fundamental word-learning skills in preterm   and full-term toddlers predict later language comprehension. In Proceedings of the 40th Annual Boston University Conference on Language Development. Somerville. MA: Cascadilla Press.

Ostrand, R., Blumstein, S.E., Ferreira, V.S, & Morgan, J.L. ( 2016). What you see isn't always what you get: Auditory word signals trump consciously-perceived words in lexical access. Cognition, 151, 96-107.

Soderstrom, M., Reimchen, M., Sauter, D., & Morgan, J. L. (in press). Do infants discriminate non-linguistic vocal expressions of positive emotions? Cognition & Emotion

Sundara, M., Ngon, C., Skoruppa, K., Feldman, N., Molina Onario, G., Peperkamp, S., & Morgan, J. L. (in press) Young infants’ discrimination of subtle phonetic contrasts. Cognition.

Tenenbaum, E., Shah, R., Sobel, D. M., Malle, B. F., & Morgan, J. L. (in press). Attention to the mouth and gaze following in infancy predict language development. Journal of Child Language.

J. Thorson and J. L. Morgan. (2015). Acoustic correlates to information structure in child and adult speech. In the proceedings of the 39th Annual Boston University Conference on Language Development (BUCLD), Boston, MA.

J. Thorson and J. L. Morgan. (2014). The role of intonation in early word recognition and learning.  In the proceedings of Speech Prosody 7, Dublin, Ireland.

J. Thorson and J. L. Morgan. (2014). Directing toddler attention: Intonation contours and information structure. In the supplement to the proceedings of the 38th Annual Boston
University Conference on Language Development (BUCLD), Boston, MA.

Ren, J., Austerweil, J. L & Morgan, J.L. (2014). Interpreting Language Universal Constraints with Bayesian Inference. Extended abstract published in the Proceedings of 88th Annual Meeting of the Linguistic Society of America , Minneapolis, MN.

Naomi Feldman, Thomas Griffiths, Sharon Goldwater, James Morgan. (2013) A role for the developing lexicon in phonetic category acquisition.  Psychological Review, 120.

Katherine S. White, Eiling Yee, Sheila Blumstein, James L. Morgan (2013). Adults show less sensitivity to phonetic detail in unfamiliar words, too. Journal of Memory and Language, 68, 362- 378.

Naomi H. Feldman, Emily B. Myers, Katherine S. White, Thomas L. Griffiths, & James L. Morgan. (2013)  Word-Level information influences phonetic learning in adults and infants , Cognition,127(3),427- 438.

Tenenbaum, E.J., Shah, R.J., Sobel, D.M., Malle, B.F., & Morgan, J. L. (2013)  Increased focus on the mouth among infants in the first year of life: A longitudinal eye-tracking study, Infancy 18(4):534-553.

Ren, J.,& Morgan, J.L. (2013). Segmental and Suprasegmental Details in Early Lexical Representations.  In the proceedings of the 83rd Annual Meeting of the Linguistic Society of America , Boston, MA.

Erin Conwell & James L. Morgan (2012): Is It a Noun or Is It a Verb? Resolving the Ambicategoricality Problem, Language Learning and Development, 8:2, 87-112. Peter W. Jusczyk Award (Best Paper, 2012).

Ren, J.,& Morgan, J.L. (2012). The devil in the details: Underspecification in infants' early lexical representations. Proceedings of the 36th Annual Boston University Conference on Language Development (pp. 500-511). Somerville, MA: Cascadilla Press.

Molina, G.C., & Morgan, J.L. (2011, October). Preterm and Full-term Infants’ Sensitivity to Permissible Native-Language Sound Sequences. Presented at the 37th New England Conference on Perinatal Research, Chatham, MA.

Ostrand, R., Blumstein, S. E., & Morgan, J. L. (2011).  When hearing lips and seeing voices becomes perceiving speech: Auditory-visual integration in lexical access.  In L. Carlson, C. Hölscher, & T. Shipley (Eds.), Proceedings of the 33rd Annual Conference of the Cognitive Science Society (pp. 1376-1381). Austin, TX: Cognitive Science Society.

Ren, J.,& Morgan, J.L. (2011). Sub-Segmental Details In Early Lexical Representation of Consonants Proceedings of the 17th International Congress of Phonetic Sciences (ICPhS XVII), August, 2011, Hong Kong, China..

Ren, J.,& Morgan, J.L. (2011). Developmental Continuity in Infants' Early Lexical Representations. Proceedings of the 47th Chicago Linguistic Society Annual Meeting, April 2011, Chicago, IL.

Naomi Feldman, Emily Myers, Katherine White, Thomas Griffiths, and James Morgan (2011). Learners Use Word-Level Statistics in Phonetic Category Acquisition. Proceedings of the 35th Annual Boston University Conference on Language Development. Somerville, MA: Cascadilla Press

Severine Millotte, James Morgan, Sylvie Margules, Savita Bernal, Michel Dutat, Anne Christophe (2010). Phrasal prosody constrains word segmentation in French16-month-olds. Journal of Portuguese Linguistics, 9-2(2010)/ 10-1 (2011), 67- 86.

Jie Ren, Liqun Gao & James L. Morgan (2010). Mandarin Speakers' Knowledge of the Sonority Sequencing Principle. The XX Colloquium of Generative Grammar, March 2010, Barcelona, Spain

Song, J.Y., Demuth, K., & Morgan, J.L. (2010). Effects of the acoustic properties of infant-directed speech on infant word recognition. Journal of the Acoustical Society of America, 128(1), 389-400.

Bortfeld, H., & Morgan, J. L. (2010). Is early word-form processing stress-full? How natural variability supports recognition. Cognitive Pyschology, 60, 241-266.

Feldman, N. H., Griffiths, T. L., and Morgan, J. L. (2009). "The influence of categories on perception: Explaining the perceptual magnet effect as optimal statistical inference". Psychological Review, 116(4), 752-782.

Ko, Eon-Suk, Melanie Soderstrom, and James Morgan (2009) Development of perceptual sensitivity to extrinsic vowel duration in infants learning American English, Journal of the Acoustical Society of America, 126(5).

Feldman, N. H., Griffiths, T. L., & Morgan, J. L. (2009). Learning phonetic categories by learning a lexicon. In N. A. Taatgen & H. van Rijn (Eds.), Proceedings of the 31st Annual Conference of the Cognitive Science Society (pp. 2208-2213). Austin, TX: Cognitive Science Society.

Melanie Soderstom, Erin Conwell, Naomi Feldman, & James Morgan. (2009) The learner as statistician: three principles of computational success in language acquisition. Developmental Science, 12, 409-411.

Molina, G.C., & Morgan, J.L. (2008). The voicing distinction in Spanish word-initial labial stops: A prelude to what Spanish- learning infants can reveal about native-language phonetic category acquisition. ATINER International Conference on Literature, Language and Linguistics, Athens.

Soderstrom, M., Blossom, M.,  Foygel, I., &  Morgan, J. L.,(2008). Acoustical cues and grammatical units in speech to two preverbal infants. Journal of Child Language,35, Issue 04, 689-902..

Soderstrom, M. (2008). Early perception-late comprehension of grammar? The case of verbal -s: a response to de Villers & Johnson, 2007. Journal of Child Language,35, Issue 03, 671-676.

White, K. S., & Morgan, J. L. (2008). Sub-segmental detail in early lexical representations. Journal of Memory and Language, 59, 114-132.

White, K. S., Peperkamp, S., Kirk, C., & Morgan, J. L. (2008). Rapid acquisition of phonological alternations by infants. Cognition, 107, 238- 265.

Singh, L., White, K, S. & Morgan, J. L. (2008). Building a word-form lexicon in the face of variable input:Influences of pitch and amplitude on early spoken word recognition Language Learning and Development, 4, 157 - 178.

Singh, L. (2008) Influences of high and low variability on infant word recognition. Cognition, 106, 833-870.

Conwell, E., & Balas, B. J. (2007). Assessing the efficacy of transitional probabilities for learning syntactic categories. In D. S. McNamara & J. G. Trafton (Eds.), Proceedings of the 29th Annual Conference of the Cognitive Science Society (pp. 893-898). Austin, TX: Cognitive Science Society.

Feldman, N. H., & Griffiths, T. L. (2007). A rational account of the perceptual magnet effect. In D. S. McNamara & J. G. Trafton (Eds.), Proceedings of the 29th Annual Conference of the Cognitive Science Society (pp. 257-262). Austin, TX: Cognitive Science Society.

Soderstrom, M. (2007). Beyond Babytalk: Re-evaluating the nature and content of speech input to preverbal infants. Developmental Review, 27, 501-532.

Conwell, E. & Morgan, J. (2007) Resolving Grammatical Category Ambiguity in Acquisition. Proceedings of the 31st Annual Boston University Conference on Language Development. Somerville, MA: Cascadilla Press

Tenenbaum, E. & Morgan, J. (2007). Racing to Segment? Top-Down vs. Bottom Up in Infant Segmentation. Proceedings of the 31st Annual Boston University Conference on Language Development. Somerville, MA: Cascadilla Press

Soderstrom, M., White, K.S., Conwell, E. & Morgan, J.L.(2007) Receptive grammatical knowledge of familiar content words and inflection in 16-month-olds. Infancy, 12, 1-29.

Soderstrom, M., & Morgan, J.L. (2007) Twenty-two-month-olds discriminate fluent from disfluent adult-directed speech. Developmental Science, 10, 641-653.

Conwell, E. & Demuth, K. (2007). Early syntactic productivity: Evidence from dative shift . Cognition, 103, 163-179.

Blossom, M., & Morgan, J.L. (2006) Does the face say what the mouth says? A study of infants' sensitivity to visual prosody. In D. Bamman, T. Magnitskaia, & C. Zaller (Eds.) Proceedings of the 30th Annual Boston University Conference on Language Development. Somerville, MA: Cascadilla Press

White, K.S., Morgan, J.L., & Wier, L. (2005) When is a dar a car? Effects of mispronunciation and referential context on sound-meaning mappings. In A. Brogos, R. Clark-Cotton, & S. Ha (Eds.), Proceedings of the 29th Annual Boston University Conference on Language Development. Somerville, MA: Cascadilla Press.

Bortfeld, H., Morgan, J., Golinkoff, R., & Rathbun, K. (2005). Mommy and me: Familiar names help launch babies into speech stream segmentation. Psychological Science, 16, 298-304.

Singh, L., Morgan, J., White, K. (2004). Preference and processing: The role of speech affect in early spoken word recognition. Journal of Memory and Language, Vol 51(2), 173-189.

Gout, A., Christophe, A., Morgan, J.L. (2004). Phonological phrase boundaries constrain lexical access II.Infant data. Journal of Memory and Language, 51, 548-567.

Christophe, A., Gout, A., Peperkamp, S., & Morgan, J.L. (2003). Discovering words in the continuous speech stream: The role of prosody. Journal of Phonetics, 31, 585-598.

Anderson, J., Morgan, J., White, K. (2003). A Statistical Basis for Speech Sound Discrimination. Language and Speech, Vol 46 (2-3), 155-182.

Soderstrom, M., Seidl, A., Kemler Nelson, D. G., & Jusczyk, P.W. (2003). The prosodic bootstrapping of phrases: Evidence from prelinguistic infants. Journal of Memory and Language, 49, 249-267. (work done at Johns Hopkins University)

Aslin, R.N., Werker, J.F., & Morgan, J.L. (2002). Innate phonetic boundaries revisited. Journal of the Acoustical Society of America, 112, 1257-1260.

Singh, L., Morgan, J. L., & Best, C. (2002). Infants' listening preferences: Baby talk or happy talk? *Infancy, 3, 365-394.

Shi, R., Werker, J. F., & Morgan, J. L. (1999). Newborn infants' sensitivity to perceptual cues to lexical and grammatical words. Cognition, B11-21.

Bortfeld, H.,& Morgan, J.L. (1999) Interaction of varieties of stress in infant-directed speech, International Congress of Phonetic Sciences, 14.

Mattys, S.L., Jusczyk, P.W., Luce, P.D.,& Morgan, J.L. (1999) Phonotactic and Prosodic Effects on Word Segmentation in Infants. Cognitive Psychology, 38, 465-494.

Shi, R., Morgan, J. L., & Allopenna, P. (1998). Phonological and acoustic bases for earliest grammatical category assignment: a cross-linguistic perspective . Journal of Child Language, 25, 169-201.

Morgan, J. L. & Demuth, K. D. (Eds.) (1996). Signal to syntax: Bootstrappingfrom speech to grammar in early language acquisition. Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates.

Morgan, J. L. (1996). Prosody and the roots of parsing. Language and Cognitive Processes, 11, 69-106.

Morgan, J.L. (1996). Finding relations between input and outcome in language acquisition. Developmental Psychology, 32, 556-559.

Morgan, J. L. (1996). A rhythmic bias in preverbal speech segmentation. Journal of Memory and Language, 35, 666-689.

Morgan, J. L., Bonamo, K. M., & Travis, L. L. (1995). Negative evidence on negative evidence. Developmental Psychology, 31, 180-197.

Morgan, J. L., & Saffran, J. R. (1995). Emerging integration of sequential and suprasegmental information in preverbal speech segmentation. Child Development, 66, 911-936.

Morgan, J. L. (1994). Converging measures of speech segmentation in preverbal infants . Infant Behavior and Development, 17, 389-403.


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