Research Interests

My research interests center around language learning and the interaction between language and everything else. To study these questions I use both empirical methods with children and adults and computational modeling using connectionist networks. I believe that the strength of this approach is the interplay between experimental results and predictions from the model - an empirical finding may suggest a computational model and in turn this computational model makes predictions that suggest more experiments...
Language basics
Nouns
Relations
Word Segmentation Rule Learning Symbol Use Cross-linguistic studies Simulations Relational Correlations Spatial Relations

Language Basics - Before children can talk, they show abilities that can be thought of as necessary for the task of learning language. These are abilities such as finding words and abstract regularities in an auditory stream and mapping abstract symbols to concrete objects.


Nouns - Once they start learning language, children seem to be expert noun learners - they can guess what a noun refers to, even if they have only heard it once. To explain this proficiency people have proposed several mechanisms in the form of constraints or biases, but where do these biases come from? Are they innate or learned? What is the mechanism that gets them into children's heads?


Relations - Learning names for relations seems, at least logically, secondary to learning names for objects -- understanding a relation implies understanding the objects that participate in it. However, even young infants understand some relational concepts, such as those involved in situations of occlusion, containment or support. How do these concepts develop? What is the role of action? What is the role of language?