Academic Appointments


Program Affiliations


  • Symbolic Systems Program

Professional Education


  • Ph.D., University of Oregon, Psychology (1982)

Current Research and Scholarly Interests


Working with English- and Spanish-learning children from diverse socioeconomic and cultural backgrounds, our research examines the importance of early language experience in supporting language development. We are deeply involved in community-based research in San Jose, designing an innovative parent-engagement program for low-resource Latino families with young children. We are also conducting field studies of beliefs about child development and caregiver-child interaction in rural villages in Senegal. A central goal of this translational research is to help parents understand their vital role in facilitating children’s language and cognitive growth.

2019-20 Courses


Stanford Advisees


All Publications


  • Predictors of early vocabulary growth in children born preterm and full term: A study of processing speed and medical complications CHILD NEUROPSYCHOLOGY Marchman, V. A., Ashland, M. D., Loi, E. C., Adams, K. A., Fernald, A., Feldman, H. M. 2019; 25 (7): 943–63
  • Predictors of early vocabulary growth in children born preterm and full term: A study of processing speed and medical complications. Child neuropsychology : a journal on normal and abnormal development in childhood and adolescence Marchman, V. A., Ashland, M. D., Loi, E. C., Adams, K. A., Fernald, A., Feldman, H. M. 2019: 1–21

    Abstract

    Delays in expressive vocabulary may be harbingers of long-term language difficulties. In toddlers born full term (FT), individual differences in language processing speed are associated with variation in expressive vocabulary growth. Children born preterm (PT) are at increased risk for persistent language deficits. Here, we evaluate predictors of early vocabulary growth in PT toddlers in relation to two sources of variability: language processing speed and medical complications of prematurity. Vocabulary growth from 16 to 30months (adjusted for degree of prematurity) was modeled longitudinally using parent reports in English-speaking FT (n =63; ≥37weeks, ≥2495g) and PT (n =69; ≤32weeks, <1800g) children, matched on sex and socioeconomic status. Children were tested in the "looking-while-listening task" at 18months to derive a measure of language processing speed. Each PT child was assessed for number of medical complications (13 maximum), based on medical chart reviews. PT and FT children displayed similar vocabulary trajectories; however, birth group disparities began to emerge by 30months. PT children were slower in language processing speed than FT children. Critically, language processing speed predicted expressive vocabulary size at 30months; interactions with birth group were not significant (all p >.20). In PT children, faster language processing speed predicted stronger outcomes regardless of number of medical complications; slower processing speed and more medical complications predicted poorer outcomes. Faster processing speed reflected favorable neuropsychological processes associated with faster expressive vocabulary growth that overrode the impact of medical complications on language outcomes in PT children.

    View details for PubMedID 30714476

  • Nonword Repetition and Language Outcomes in Young Children Born Preterm JOURNAL OF SPEECH LANGUAGE AND HEARING RESEARCH Gresch, L. D., Marchman, V. A., Loi, E. C., Fernald, A., Feldman, H. M. 2018; 61 (5): 1203–15

    Abstract

    The aims of this study were to examine phonological short-term memory in children born preterm (PT) and to explore relations between this neuropsychological process and later language skills.Children born PT (n = 74) and full term (FT; n = 60) participated in a nonword repetition (NWR) task at 36 months old. Standardized measures of language skills were administered at 36 and 54 months old. Group differences in NWR task completion and NWR scores were analyzed. Hierarchical multiple regression analyses examined the extent to which NWR ability predicted later performance on language measures.More children born PT than FT did not complete the NWR task. Among children who completed the task, the performance of children born PT and FT was not statistically different. NWR scores at 36 months old accounted for significant unique variance in language scores at 54 months old in both groups. Birth group did not moderate the relation between NWR and later language performance.These findings suggest that phonological short-term memory is an important skill underlying language development in both children born PT and FT. These findings have relevance to clinical practice in assessing children born PT.

    View details for PubMedID 29800357

  • Real-time lexical comprehension in young children learning American Sign Language. Developmental science MacDonald, K., LaMarr, T., Corina, D., Marchman, V. A., Fernald, A. 2018: e12672

    Abstract

    When children interpret spoken language in real time, linguistic information drives rapid shifts in visual attention to objects in the visual world. This language-vision interaction can provide insights into children's developing efficiency in language comprehension. But how does language influence visual attention when the linguistic signal and the visual world are both processed via the visual channel? Here, we measured eye movements during real-time comprehension of a visual-manual language, American Sign Language (ASL), by 29 native ASL-learning children (16-53 mos, 16 deaf, 13 hearing) and 16 fluent deaf adult signers. All signers showed evidence of rapid, incremental language comprehension, tending to initiate an eye movement before sign offset. Deaf and hearing ASL-learners showed similar gaze patterns, suggesting that the in-the-moment dynamics of eye movements during ASL processing are shaped by the constraints of processing a visual language in real time and not by differential access to auditory information in day-to-day life. Finally, variation in children's ASL processing was positively correlated with age and vocabulary size. Thus, despite competition for attention within a single modality, the timing and accuracy of visual fixations during ASL comprehension reflect information processing skills that are important for language acquisition regardless of language modality.

    View details for PubMedID 29659103

  • Speed of Language Comprehension at 18 Months Old Predicts School-Relevant Outcomes at 54 Months Old in Children Born Preterm JOURNAL OF DEVELOPMENTAL AND BEHAVIORAL PEDIATRICS Marchman, V. A., Loi, E. C., Adams, K. A., Ashland, M., Fernald, A., Feldman, H. M. 2018; 39 (3): 246–53

    Abstract

    Identifying which preterm (PT) children are at increased risk of language and learning differences increases opportunities for participation in interventions that improve outcomes. Speed in spoken language comprehension at early stages of language development requires information processing skills that may form the foundation for later language and school-relevant skills. In children born full-term, speed of comprehending words in an eye-tracking task at 2 years old predicted language and nonverbal cognition at 8 years old. Here, we explore the extent to which speed of language comprehension at 1.5 years old predicts both verbal and nonverbal outcomes at 4.5 years old in children born PT.Participants were children born PT (n = 47; ≤32 weeks gestation). Children were tested in the "looking-while-listening" task at 18 months old, adjusted for prematurity, to generate a measure of speed of language comprehension. Parent report and direct assessments of language were also administered. Children were later retested on a test battery of school-relevant skills at 4.5 years old.Speed of language comprehension at 18 months old predicted significant unique variance (12%-31%) in receptive vocabulary, global language abilities, and nonverbal intelligence quotient (IQ) at 4.5 years, controlling for socioeconomic status, gestational age, and medical complications of PT birth. Speed of language comprehension remained uniquely predictive (5%-12%) when also controlling for children's language skills at 18 months old.Individual differences in speed of spoken language comprehension may serve as a marker for neuropsychological processes that are critical for the development of school-relevant linguistic skills and nonverbal IQ in children born PT.

    View details for PubMedID 29309294

    View details for PubMedCentralID PMC5866178

  • Validity of caregiver-report measures of language skill for Wolof-learning infants and toddlers living in rural African villages. Journal of child language Weber, A. M., Marchman, V. A., Diop, Y., Fernald, A. 2018: 1–20

    Abstract

    Valid indigenous language assessments are needed to further our understanding of how children learn language around the world. We assessed the psychometric properties and performance of two caregiver-report measures of Wolof language skill (language milestones achieved and vocabulary knowledge) for 500 children (ages 0;4 to 2;6) living in rural Senegal. Item response models (IRM) evaluated instrument- and item-level performance and differential function by gender. Both caregiver-report measures had good psychometric properties and displayed expected age and socioeconomic effects. Modest concurrent validity was found by comparing the caregiver-report scores to transcribed child language samples from a naturalistic play session. The caregiver-report method offers a valid alternative to more costly tools, such as direct behavioral assessments or language sampling, for measuring early language development in non-literate, rural African communities. Recommendations are made to further improve the performance of caregiver-report measures of child language skill in these settings.

    View details for PubMedID 29519264

  • Quality of caregiver-child play interactions with toddlers born preterm and full term: Antecedents and language outcome EARLY HUMAN DEVELOPMENT Loi, E. C., Vaca, K. C., Ashland, M. D., Marchman, V. A., Fernald, A., Feldman, H. M. 2017; 115: 110–17

    Abstract

    Preterm birth may leave long-term effects on the interactions between caregivers and children. Language skills are sensitive to the quality of caregiver-child interactions.Compare the quality of caregiver-child play interactions in toddlers born preterm (PT) and full term (FT) at age 22months (corrected for degree of prematurity) and evaluate the degree of association between caregiver-child interactions, antecedent demographic and language factors, and subsequent language skill.A longitudinal descriptive cohort study.39 PT and 39 FT toddlers individually matched on sex and socioeconomic status (SES).The outcome measures were dimensions of caregiver-child interactions, rated from a videotaped play session at age 22months in relation to receptive language assessments at ages 18 and 36months.Caregiver intrusiveness was greater in the PT than FT group. A composite score of child interactional behaviors was associated with a composite score of caregiver interactional behaviors. The caregiver composite measure was associated with later receptive vocabulary at 36months. PT-FT group membership did not moderate the association between caregiver interactional behavior and later receptive vocabulary.The quality of caregiver interactional behavior had similar associations with concurrent child interactional behavior and subsequent language outcome in the PT and FT groups. Greater caregiver sensitivity/responsiveness, verbal elaboration, and less intrusiveness support receptive language development in typically developing toddlers and toddlers at risk for language difficulty.

    View details for PubMedID 29111418

    View details for PubMedCentralID PMC5689464

  • When Cultural Norms Discourage Talking to Babies: Effectiveness of a Parenting Program in Rural Senegal CHILD DEVELOPMENT Weber, A., Fernald, A., Diop, Y. 2017; 88 (5): 1513–26

    Abstract

    In some areas of rural Africa, long-standing cultural traditions and beliefs may discourage parents from verbally engaging with their young children. This study assessed the effectiveness of a parenting program designed to encourage verbal engagement between caregivers and infants in Wolof-speaking villages in rural Senegal. Caregivers (n = 443) and their 4- to 31-month-old children were observed at baseline in 2013 and 1 year later at follow-up. Results showed that caregivers in program villages nearly doubled the amount of child-directed speech during a play session compared to baseline, whereas caregivers in matched comparison villages showed no change. After 1 year, children in program villages produced more utterances, and showed greater improvement in vocabulary and other language outcomes compared to children in comparison villages.

    View details for PubMedID 28650107

  • Caregiver Talk and Medical Risk as Predictors of Language Outcomes in Full Term and Preterm Toddlers. Child development Adams, K. A., Marchman, V. A., Loi, E. C., Ashland, M. D., Fernald, A., Feldman, H. M. 2017

    Abstract

    This study examined associations between caregiver talk and language skills in full term (FT) and preterm (PT) children (n = 97). All-day recordings of caregiver-child interactions revealed striking similarities in amount of caregiver talk heard by FT and PT children. Children who heard more caregiver talk at 16 months demonstrated better knowledge- and processing-based language skills at 18 months. The unique contributions of caregiver talk were tempered by medical risk in PT children, especially for processing speed. However, there was no evidence that birth status or medical risk moderated the effects of caregiver talk. These findings highlight the role of caregiver talk in shaping language outcomes in FT and PT children and offer insights into links between neurodevelopmental risk and caregiver-child engagement.

    View details for DOI 10.1111/cdev.12818

    View details for PubMedID 28452393

  • Using Eye Movements to Assess Language Comprehension in Toddlers Born Preterm and Full Term JOURNAL OF PEDIATRICS Loi, E. C., Marchman, V. A., Fernald, A., Feldman, H. M. 2017; 180: 124-129

    Abstract

    To assess language skills in children born preterm and full term by the use of a standardized language test and eye-tracking methods.Children born ≤32 weeks' gestation (n = 44) were matched on sex and socioeconomic status to children born full term (n = 44) and studied longitudinally. The Bayley Scales of Infant and Toddler Development, Third Edition (BSID-III) were administered at 18 months (corrected for prematurity as applicable). The Looking-While-Listening Task (LWL) simultaneously presents 2 pictures and an auditory stimulus that directs the child's attention to one image. The pattern of eye movements reflects visual processing and the efficiency of language comprehension. Children born preterm were evaluated on LWL 3 times between 18 and 24 months. Children born full term were evaluated at ages corresponding to chronological and corrected ages of their preterm match. Results were compared between groups for the BSID-III and 2 LWL measures: accuracy (proportion of time looking at target) and reaction time (latency to shift gaze from distracter to target).Children born preterm had lower BSID-III scores than children born full term. Children born preterm had poorer performance than children born full term on LWL measures for chronological age but similar performance for corrected age. Accuracy and reaction time at 18 months' corrected age displaced preterm-full term group membership as significant predictors of BSID-III scores.Performance and rate of change on language comprehension measures were similar in children born preterm and full term compared at corrected age. Individual variation in language comprehension efficiency was a robust predictor of scores on a standardized language assessment in both groups.

    View details for DOI 10.1016/j.jpeds.2016.10.004

    View details for Web of Science ID 000390028100026

    View details for PubMedCentralID PMC5183474

  • Cultivating American- and Japanese-Style Relatedness Through Mother-Child Conversation DISCOURSE PROCESSES Crane, L. S., Fernald, A. 2017; 54 (4): 317-337
  • Caregiver talk to young Spanish-English bilinguals: comparing direct observation and parent-report measures of dual-language exposure DEVELOPMENTAL SCIENCE Marchman, V. A., Martinez, L. Z., Hurtado, N., Grueter, T., Fernald, A. 2017; 20 (1)

    Abstract

    In research on language development by bilingual children, the early language environment is commonly characterized in terms of the relative amount of exposure a child gets to each language based on parent report. Little is known about how absolute measures of child-directed speech in two languages relate to language growth. In this study of 3-year-old Spanish-English bilinguals (n = 18), traditional parent-report estimates of exposure were compared to measures of the number of Spanish and English words children heard during naturalistic audio recordings. While the two estimates were moderately correlated, observed numbers of child-directed words were more consistently predictive of children's processing speed and standardized test performance, even when controlling for reported proportion of exposure. These findings highlight the importance of caregiver engagement in bilingual children's language outcomes in both of the languages they are learning.

    View details for DOI 10.1111/desc.12425

    View details for Web of Science ID 000391973800004

    View details for PubMedCentralID PMC5116283

  • Using Eye Movements to Assess Language Comprehension in Toddlers Born Preterm and Full Term. journal of pediatrics Loi, E. C., Marchman, V. A., Fernald, A., Feldman, H. M. 2016

    Abstract

    To assess language skills in children born preterm and full term by the use of a standardized language test and eye-tracking methods.Children born ≤32 weeks' gestation (n = 44) were matched on sex and socioeconomic status to children born full term (n = 44) and studied longitudinally. The Bayley Scales of Infant and Toddler Development, Third Edition (BSID-III) were administered at 18 months (corrected for prematurity as applicable). The Looking-While-Listening Task (LWL) simultaneously presents 2 pictures and an auditory stimulus that directs the child's attention to one image. The pattern of eye movements reflects visual processing and the efficiency of language comprehension. Children born preterm were evaluated on LWL 3 times between 18 and 24 months. Children born full term were evaluated at ages corresponding to chronological and corrected ages of their preterm match. Results were compared between groups for the BSID-III and 2 LWL measures: accuracy (proportion of time looking at target) and reaction time (latency to shift gaze from distracter to target).Children born preterm had lower BSID-III scores than children born full term. Children born preterm had poorer performance than children born full term on LWL measures for chronological age but similar performance for corrected age. Accuracy and reaction time at 18 months' corrected age displaced preterm-full term group membership as significant predictors of BSID-III scores.Performance and rate of change on language comprehension measures were similar in children born preterm and full term compared at corrected age. Individual variation in language comprehension efficiency was a robust predictor of scores on a standardized language assessment in both groups.

    View details for DOI 10.1016/j.jpeds.2016.10.004

    View details for PubMedID 27816220

  • Caregiver talk to young Spanish-English bilinguals: comparing direct observation and parent-report measures of dual-language exposure. Developmental science Marchman, V. A., Martínez, L. Z., Hurtado, N., Grüter, T., Fernald, A. 2016

    Abstract

    In research on language development by bilingual children, the early language environment is commonly characterized in terms of the relative amount of exposure a child gets to each language based on parent report. Little is known about how absolute measures of child-directed speech in two languages relate to language growth. In this study of 3-year-old Spanish-English bilinguals (n = 18), traditional parent-report estimates of exposure were compared to measures of the number of Spanish and English words children heard during naturalistic audio recordings. While the two estimates were moderately correlated, observed numbers of child-directed words were more consistently predictive of children's processing speed and standardized test performance, even when controlling for reported proportion of exposure. These findings highlight the importance of caregiver engagement in bilingual children's language outcomes in both of the languages they are learning.

    View details for DOI 10.1111/desc.12425

    View details for PubMedID 27197746

    View details for PubMedCentralID PMC5116283

  • Early language processing efficiency predicts later receptive vocabulary outcomes in children born preterm. Child neuropsychology Marchman, V. A., Adams, K. A., Loi, E. C., Fernald, A., Feldman, H. M. 2016; 22 (6): 649-665

    Abstract

    As rates of prematurity continue to rise, identifying which preterm children are at increased risk for learning disabilities is a public health imperative. Identifying continuities between early and later skills in this vulnerable population can also illuminate fundamental neuropsychological processes that support learning in all children. At 18 months adjusted age, we used socioeconomic status (SES), medical variables, parent-reported vocabulary, scores on the Bayley Scales of Infant and Toddler Development (third edition) language composite, and children's lexical processing speed in the looking-while-listening (LWL) task as predictor variables in a sample of 30 preterm children. Receptive vocabulary as measured by the Peabody Picture Vocabulary Test (fourth edition) at 36 months was the outcome. Receptive vocabulary was correlated with SES, but uncorrelated with degree of prematurity or a composite of medical risk. Importantly, lexical processing speed was the strongest predictor of receptive vocabulary (r = -.81), accounting for 30% unique variance. Individual differences in lexical processing efficiency may be able to serve as a marker for information processing skills that are critical for language learning.

    View details for DOI 10.1080/09297049.2015.1038987

    View details for PubMedID 26031342

  • Real-time interpretation of novel events across childhood JOURNAL OF MEMORY AND LANGUAGE Borovsky, A., Sweeney, K., Elman, J. L., Fernald, A. 2014; 73: 1-14
  • Relative language exposure, processing efficiency and vocabulary in Spanish- English bilingual toddlers* BILINGUALISM-LANGUAGE AND COGNITION Hurtado, N., Grueter, T., Marchman, V. A., Fernald, A. 2014; 17 (1): 189-202
  • Real-time interpretation of novel events across childhood. Journal of memory and language Borovsky, A., Sweeney, K., Elman, J. L., Fernald, A. 2014; 73: 1–14

    Abstract

    Despite extensive evidence that adults and children rapidly integrate world knowledge to generate expectancies for upcoming language, little work has explored how this knowledge is initially acquired and used. We explore this question in 3- to 10-year-old children and adults by measuring the degree to which sentences depicting recently learned connections between agents, actions and objects lead to anticipatory eye-movements to the objects. Combinatory information in sentences about agent and action elicited anticipatory eye-movements to the Target object in adults and older children. Our findings suggest that adults and school-aged children can quickly activate information about recently exposed novel event relationships in real-time language processing. However, there were important developmental differences in the use of this knowledge. Adults and school-aged children used the sentential agent and action to predict the sentence final theme, while preschool children's fixations reflected a simple association to the currently spoken item. We consider several reasons for this developmental difference and possible extensions of this paradigm.

    View details for PubMedID 24976677

    View details for PubMedCentralID PMC4071296

  • Talking to Children Matters: Early Language Experience Strengthens Processing and Builds Vocabulary PSYCHOLOGICAL SCIENCE Weisleder, A., Fernald, A. 2013; 24 (11): 2143-2152

    Abstract

    Infants differ substantially in their rates of language growth, and slow growth predicts later academic difficulties. In this study, we explored how the amount of speech directed to infants in Spanish-speaking families low in socioeconomic status influenced the development of children's skill in real-time language processing and vocabulary learning. All-day recordings of parent-infant interactions at home revealed striking variability among families in how much speech caregivers addressed to their child. Infants who experienced more child-directed speech became more efficient in processing familiar words in real time and had larger expressive vocabularies by the age of 24 months, although speech simply overheard by the child was unrelated to vocabulary outcomes. Mediation analyses showed that the effect of child-directed speech on expressive vocabulary was explained by infants' language-processing efficiency, which suggests that richer language experience strengthens processing skills that facilitate language growth.

    View details for DOI 10.1177/0956797613488145

    View details for Web of Science ID 000326671700002

    View details for PubMedID 24022649

  • SES differences in language processing skill and vocabulary are evident at 18months DEVELOPMENTAL SCIENCE Fernald, A., Marchman, V. A., Weisleder, A. 2013; 16 (2): 234-248

    Abstract

    This research revealed both similarities and striking differences in early language proficiency among infants from a broad range of advantaged and disadvantaged families. English-learning infants (n = 48) were followed longitudinally from 18 to 24 months, using real-time measures of spoken language processing. The first goal was to track developmental changes in processing efficiency in relation to vocabulary learning in this diverse sample. The second goal was to examine differences in these crucial aspects of early language development in relation to family socioeconomic status (SES). The most important findings were that significant disparities in vocabulary and language processing efficiency were already evident at 18 months between infants from higher- and lower-SES families, and by 24 months there was a 6-month gap between SES groups in processing skills critical to language development.

    View details for DOI 10.1111/desc.12019

    View details for Web of Science ID 000315384700008

    View details for PubMedID 23432833

    View details for PubMedCentralID PMC3582035

  • Fast mapping, slow learning: Disambiguation of novel word-object mappings in relation to vocabulary learning at 18, 24, and 30 months COGNITION Bion, R. A., Borovsky, A., Fernald, A. 2013; 126 (1): 39-53

    Abstract

    When hearing a novel name, children tend to select a novel object rather than a familiar one, a bias known as disambiguation. Using online processing measures with 18-, 24-, and 30-month-olds, we investigate how the development of this bias relates to word learning. Children's proportion of looking time to a novel object after hearing a novel name related to their success in retention of the novel word, and also to their vocabulary size. However, skill in disambiguation and retention of novel words developed gradually: 18-month-olds did not show a reliable preference for the novel object after labeling; 24-month-olds reliably looked at a novel object on Disambiguation trials but showed no evidence of retention; and 30-month-olds succeeded on Disambiguation trials and showed only fragile evidence of retention. We conclude that the ability to find the referent of a novel word in ambiguous contexts is a skill that improves from 18 to 30months of age. Word learning is characterized as an incremental process that is related to - but not dependent on - the emergence of disambiguation biases.

    View details for DOI 10.1016/j.cognition.2012.08.008

    View details for Web of Science ID 000312177400003

    View details for PubMedID 23063233

  • Knowing a lot for one's age: Vocabulary skill and not age is associated with anticipatory incremental sentence interpretation in children and adults JOURNAL OF EXPERIMENTAL CHILD PSYCHOLOGY Borovsky, A., Elmana, J. L., Fernald, A. 2012; 112 (4): 417-436

    Abstract

    Adults can incrementally combine information from speech with astonishing speed to anticipate future words. Concurrently, a growing body of work suggests that vocabulary ability is crucially related to lexical processing skills in children. However, little is known about this relationship with predictive sentence processing in children or adults. We explore this question by comparing the degree to which an upcoming sentential theme is anticipated by combining information from a prior agent and action. 48 children, aged of 3 to 10, and 48 college-aged adults' eye-movements were recorded as they heard a sentence (e.g., The pirate hides the treasure) in which the object referred to one of four images that included an agent-related, action-related and unrelated distractor image. Pictures were rotated so that, across all versions of the study, each picture appeared in all conditions, yielding a completely balanced within-subjects design. Adults and children quickly made use of combinatory information available at the action to generate anticipatory looks to the target object. Speed of anticipatory fixations did not vary with age. When controlling for age, individuals with higher vocabularies were faster to look to the target than those with lower vocabulary scores. Together, these results support and extend current views of incremental processing in which adults and children make use of linguistic information to continuously update their mental representation of ongoing language.

    View details for DOI 10.1016/j.jecp.2012.01.005

    View details for Web of Science ID 000306629600005

    View details for PubMedID 22632758

    View details for PubMedCentralID PMC3374638

  • Grammatical gender in L2: A production or a real-time processing problem? SECOND LANGUAGE RESEARCH Grueter, T., Lew-Williams, C., Fernald, A. 2012; 28 (2): 191-215
  • Individual Differences in Lexical Processing at 18 Months Predict Vocabulary Growth in Typically Developing and Late-Talking Toddlers CHILD DEVELOPMENT Fernald, A., Marchman, V. A. 2012; 83 (1): 203-222

    Abstract

    Using online measures of familiar word recognition in the looking-while-listening procedure, this prospective longitudinal study revealed robust links between processing efficiency and vocabulary growth from 18 to 30 months in children classified as typically developing (n = 46) and as "late talkers" (n = 36) at 18 months. Those late talkers who were more efficient in word recognition at 18 months were also more likely to "bloom," showing more accelerated vocabulary growth over the following year, compared with late talkers less efficient in early speech processing. Such findings support the emerging view that early differences in processing efficiency evident in infancy have cascading consequences for later learning and may be continuous with individual differences in language proficiency observed in older children and adults.

    View details for DOI 10.1111/j.1467-8624.2011.01692.x

    View details for Web of Science ID 000299465000015

    View details for PubMedID 22172209

    View details for PubMedCentralID PMC3266972

  • Grammatical gender in L2: A production or a real-time processing problem? Second language research Grüter, T., Lew-Williams, C., Fernald, A. 2012; 28 (2): 191–215

    Abstract

    Mastery of grammatical gender is difficult to achieve in a second language (L2). This study investigates whether persistent difficulty with grammatical gender often observed in the speech of otherwise highly proficient L2 learners is best characterized as a production-specific performance problem, or as difficulty with the retrieval of gender information in real-time language use. In an experimental design that crossed production/comprehension and online/offline tasks, highly proficient L2 learners of Spanish performed at ceiling in offline comprehension, showed errors in elicited production, and exhibited weaker use of gender cues in online processing of familiar (though not novel) nouns than native speakers. These findings suggest that persistent difficulty with grammatical gender may not be limited to the realm of language production, but could affect both expressive and receptive use of language in real time. We propose that the observed differences in performance between native and non-native speakers lie at the level of lexical representation of grammatical gender and arise from fundamental differences in how infants and adults approach word learning.

    View details for PubMedID 30319164

    View details for PubMedCentralID PMC6181447

  • Grammatical Gender in L2: Where Is the Problem? 35th Annual Boston University Conference on Language Development Grueter, T., Lew-Williams, C., Fernald, A. CASCADILLA PRESS. 2011: 246–258
  • Real-time processing of gender-marked articles by native and non-native Spanish speakers JOURNAL OF MEMORY AND LANGUAGE Lew-Williams, C., Fernald, A. 2010; 63 (4): 447-464
  • How vocabulary size in two languages relates to efficiency in spoken word recognition by young Spanish-English bilinguals JOURNAL OF CHILD LANGUAGE Marchman, V. A., Fernald, A., Hurtado, N. 2010; 37 (4): 817-840

    Abstract

    Research using online comprehension measures with monolingual children shows that speed and accuracy of spoken word recognition are correlated with lexical development. Here we examined speech processing efficiency in relation to vocabulary development in bilingual children learning both Spanish and English (n=26 ; 2 ; 6). Between-language associations were weak: vocabulary size in Spanish was uncorrelated with vocabulary in English, and children's facility in online comprehension in Spanish was unrelated to their facility in English. Instead, efficiency of online processing in one language was significantly related to vocabulary size in that language, after controlling for processing speed and vocabulary size in the other language. These links between efficiency of lexical access and vocabulary knowledge in bilinguals parallel those previously reported for Spanish and English monolinguals, suggesting that children's ability to abstract information from the input in building a working lexicon relates fundamentally to mechanisms underlying the construction of language.

    View details for DOI 10.1017/S0305000909990055

    View details for Web of Science ID 000281565200003

    View details for PubMedID 19726000

    View details for PubMedCentralID PMC2910833

  • Blue car, red car: Developing efficiency in online interpretation of adjective-noun phrases COGNITIVE PSYCHOLOGY Fernald, A., Thorpe, K., Marchman, V. A. 2010; 60 (3): 190-217

    Abstract

    Two experiments investigated the development of fluency in interpreting adjective-noun phrases in 30- and 36-month-old English-learning children. Using online processing measures, children's gaze patterns were monitored as they heard the familiar adjective-noun phrases (e.g. blue car) in visual contexts where the adjective was either informative (e.g. blue car paired with red car or red house) or uninformative (e.g. blue car paired with blue house). Thirty-six-month-olds processed adjective-noun phrases incrementally as adults do, orienting more quickly to the target picture on informative-adjective trials than on control trials. Thirty-month-olds did not make incremental use of informative adjectives, and experienced disruption on trials when the two potential referents were identical in kind. In the younger children, difficulty in integrating prenominal adjectives with the subsequent noun was associated with slower processing speed across conditions. These findings provide evidence that skill in putting color word knowledge to use in real-time language processing emerges gradually over the third year.

    View details for DOI 10.1016/j.cogpsych.2009.12.002

    View details for Web of Science ID 000276599400003

    View details for PubMedID 20189552

    View details for PubMedCentralID PMC2835804

  • Real-time processing of gender-marked articles by native and non-native Spanish speakers. Journal of memory and language Lew-Williams, C., Fernald, A. 2010; 63 (4): 447–64

    Abstract

    Three experiments using online processing measures explored whether native and non-native Spanish-speaking adults use gender-marked articles to identify referents of target nouns more rapidly, as shown previously with 3-year-old children learning Spanish as L1 (Lew-Williams & Fernald, 2007). In Experiment 1, participants viewed familiar objects with names of either the same or different grammatical gender while listening to Spanish sentences referring to one object. L1 adults, like L1 children, oriented to the target more rapidly on different-gender trials, when the article was informative about noun identity; however, L2 adults did not. Experiments 2 and 3 controlled for frequency of exposure to article-noun pairs by using novel nouns. L2 adults could not exploit gender information when different article-noun pairs were used in teaching and testing. Experience-related factors may influence how L1 adults and children and L2 adults-who learned Spanish at different ages and in different settings-use grammatical gender in realtime processing.

    View details for PubMedID 21076648

    View details for PubMedCentralID PMC2976062

  • Getting beyond the "convenience sample" in research on early cognitive development. The Behavioral and brain sciences Fernald, A. 2010; 33 (2-3): 91–92

    Abstract

    Research on the early development of fundamental cognitive and language capacities has focused almost exclusively on infants from middle-class families, excluding children living in poverty who may experience less cognitive stimulation in the first years of life. Ignoring such differences limits our ability to discover the potentially powerful contributions of environmental support to the ontogeny of cognitive and language abilities.

    View details for PubMedID 20546649

    View details for PubMedCentralID PMC2905660

  • Fluency in Using Morphosyntactic Cues to Establish Reference: How Do Native and Non-Native Speakers Differ? 33rd Annual Boston-University Conference on Language Development Lew-Williams, C., Fernald, A. CASCADILLA PRESS. 2009: 290–301
  • Real-time Processing of Postnominal Adjectives by Latino Children Learning Spanish as a First Language 33rd Annual Boston-University Conference on Language Development Weisleder, A., Fernald, A. CASCADILLA PRESS. 2009: 611–621
  • Does input influence uptake? Links between maternal talk, processing speed and vocabulary size in Spanish-learning children DEVELOPMENTAL SCIENCE Hurtado, N., Marchman, V. A., Fernald, A. 2008; 11 (6): F31-F39

    Abstract

    It is well established that variation in caregivers' speech is associated with language outcomes, yet little is known about the learning principles that mediate these effects. This longitudinal study (n = 27) explores whether Spanish-learning children's early experiences with language predict efficiency in real-time comprehension and vocabulary learning. Measures of mothers' speech at 18 months were examined in relation to children's speech processing efficiency and reported vocabulary at 18 and 24 months. Children of mothers who provided more input at 18 months knew more words and were faster in word recognition at 24 months. Moreover, multiple regression analyses indicated that the influences of caregiver speech on speed of word recognition and vocabulary were largely overlapping. This study provides the first evidence that input shapes children's lexical processing efficiency and that vocabulary growth and increasing facility in spoken word comprehension work together to support the uptake of the information that rich input affords the young language learner.

    View details for DOI 10.1111/j.1467-7687.2008.00768.x

    View details for Web of Science ID 000260050100002

    View details for PubMedID 19046145

    View details for PubMedCentralID PMC2898277

  • Speed of word recognition and vocabulary knowledge in infancy predict cognitive and language outcomes in later childhood DEVELOPMENTAL SCIENCE Marchman, V. A., Fernald, A. 2008; 11 (3): F9-F16

    Abstract

    The nature of predictive relations between early language and later cognitive function is a fundamental question in research on human cognition. In a longitudinal study assessing speed of language processing in infancy, Fernald, Perfors and Marchman (2006) found that reaction time at 25 months was strongly related to lexical and grammatical development over the second year. In this follow-up study, children originally tested as infants were assessed at 8 years on standardized tests of language, cognition, and working memory. Speed of spoken word recognition and vocabulary size at 25 months each accounted for unique variance in linguistic and cognitive skills at 8 years, effects that were attributable to strong relations between both infancy measures and working memory. These findings suggest that processing speed and early language skills are fundamental to intellectual functioning, and that language development is guided by learning and representational principles shared across cognitive and linguistic domains.

    View details for DOI 10.1111/j.1467-7687.2008.00671.x

    View details for Web of Science ID 000255644100001

    View details for PubMedID 18466367

    View details for PubMedCentralID PMC2905590

  • Input Affects Uptake: How Early Language Experience Influences Processing Efficiency and Vocabulary Learning 7th IEEE International Conference on Development and Learning Fernald, A., Marchman, V. A., Hurtado, N. IEEE. 2008: 37–42
  • Spoken word recognition by Latino children learning Spanish as their first language JOURNAL OF CHILD LANGUAGE Hurtado, N., Marchman, V. A., Fernald, A. 2007; 34 (2): 227-249

    Abstract

    Research on the development of efficiency in spoken language understanding has focused largely on middle-class children learning English. Here we extend this research to Spanish-learning children (n=49; M=2;0; range= 1 ;3-3; 1) living in the USA in Latino families from primarily low socioeconomic backgrounds. Children looked at pictures of familiar objects while listening to speech naming one of the objects. Analyses of eye movements revealed developmental increases in the efficiency of speech processing. Older children and children with larger vocabularies were more efficient at processing spoken language as it unfolds in real time, as previously documented with English learners. Children whose mothers had less education tended to be slower and less accurate than children of comparable age and vocabulary size whose mothers had more schooling, consistent with previous findings of slower rates of language learning in children from disadvantaged backgrounds. These results add to the cross-linguistic literature on the development of spoken word recognition and to the study of the impact of socioeconomic status (SES) factors on early language development.

    View details for DOI 10.1017/S0305000906007896

    View details for Web of Science ID 000246669900002

    View details for PubMedID 17542157

    View details for PubMedCentralID PMC2898269

  • Young children learning Spanish make rapid use of grammatical gender in spoken word recognition PSYCHOLOGICAL SCIENCE Lew-Williams, C., Fernald, A. 2007; 18 (3): 193-198

    Abstract

    All nouns in Spanish have grammatical gender, with obligatory gender marking on preceding articles (e.g., la and el, the feminine and masculine forms of "the," respectively). Adult native speakers of languages with grammatical gender exploit this cue in on-line sentence interpretation. In a study investigating the early development of this ability, Spanish-learning children (34-42 months) were tested in an eye-tracking procedure. Presented with pairs of pictures with names of either the same grammatical gender (la pelota, "ball [feminine]"; la galleta, "cookie [feminine]") or different grammatical gender (la pelota; el zapato, "shoe [masculine]"), they heard sentences referring to one picture (Encuentra la pelota, "Find the ball"). The children were faster to orient to the referent on different-gender trials, when the article was potentially informative, than on same-gender trials, when it was not, and this ability was correlated with productive measures of lexical and grammatical competence. Spanish-learning children who can speak only 500 words already use gender-marked articles in establishing reference, a processing advantage characteristic of native Spanish-speaking adults.

    View details for Web of Science ID 000245745700001

    View details for PubMedID 17444909

  • How first and second language learners use predictive cues in online sentence interpretation in Spanish and English 31th Annual Boston-University Conference on Language Development Lew-Williams, C., Fernald, A. CASCADILLA PRESS. 2007: 382–393
  • Increasing Flexibility in Children's Online Processing of Grammatical and Nonce Determiners in Fluent Speech. Language learning and development : the official journal of the Society for Language Development Zangl, R., Fernald, A. 2007; 3 (3): 199–231

    Abstract

    Two experiments using online speech processing measures with 18- to 36-month-olds extended research by Gerken & McIntosh (1993) showing that young children's comprehension is disrupted when the grammatical determiner in a noun phrase is replaced with a nonce determiner (the car vs. po car). In Expt. 1, 18-month-olds were slower and less accurate to identify familiar nouns on nonce-article than grammatical-article trials, although older children who produced determiners in their own speech showed no disruption. However, when tested on novel words in Expt. 2, even linguistically advanced 34-month-olds had greater difficulty identifying familiar as well as newly learned object names preceded by a nonce article. Children's success in "listening through" an uninformative functor-like nonce syllable before a familiar noun was related to their level of grammatical competence, but their attention to the nonce article also varied with lexical familiarity and the overall redundancy of the processing context.

    View details for PubMedID 22081762

    View details for PubMedCentralID PMC3212392

  • Knowing what a novel word is not: Two-year-olds 'listen through' ambiguous adjectives in fluent speech COGNITION Thorpe, K., Fernald, A. 2006; 100 (3): 389-433

    Abstract

    Three studies investigated how 24-month-olds and adults resolve temporary ambiguity in fluent speech when encountering prenominal adjectives potentially interpretable as nouns. Children were tested in a looking-while-listening procedure to monitor the time course of speech processing. In Experiment 1, the familiar and unfamiliar adjectives preceding familiar target nouns were accented or deaccented. Target word recognition was disrupted only when lexically ambiguous adjectives were accented like nouns. Experiment 2 measured the extent of interference experienced by children when interpreting prenominal words as nouns. In Experiment 3, adults used prosodic cues to identify the form class of adjective/noun homophones in string-identical sentences before the ambiguous words were fully spoken. Results show that children and adults use prosody in conjunction with lexical and distributional cues to 'listen through' prenominal adjectives, avoiding costly misinterpretation.

    View details for DOI 10.1016/j.cognition.2005.04.009

    View details for Web of Science ID 000238866500001

    View details for PubMedID 16125688

    View details for PubMedCentralID PMC3214592

  • Names in frames: infants interpret words in sentence frames faster than words in isolation DEVELOPMENTAL SCIENCE Fernald, A., Hurtado, N. 2006; 9 (3): F33-F40

    Abstract

    In child-directed speech (CDS), adults often use utterances with very few words; many include short, frequently used sentence frames, while others consist of a single word in isolation. Do such features of CDS provide perceptual advantages for the child? Based on descriptive analyses of parental speech, some researchers argue that isolated words should help infants in word recognition by facilitating segmentation, while others predict no advantage. To address this question directly, we used online measures of speech processing in a looking-while-listening procedure. In two experiments, 18-month-olds were presented with familiar object names in isolation and in a sentence frame. Infants were 120 ms slower to interpret target words in isolation than when the same words were preceded by a familiar carrier phrase, suggesting that the sentence frame facilitated word recognition. Familiar frames may enable the infant to 'listen ahead' more efficiently for the focused word at the end of the sentence.

    View details for Web of Science ID 000236962400001

    View details for PubMedID 16669790

  • Picking up speed in understanding: Speech processing efficiency and vocabulary growth across the 2nd year DEVELOPMENTAL PSYCHOLOGY Fernald, A., Perfors, A., Marchman, V. A. 2006; 42 (1): 98-116

    Abstract

    To explore how online speech processing efficiency relates to vocabulary growth in the 2nd year, the authors longitudinally observed 59 English-learning children at 15, 18, 21, and 25 months as they looked at pictures while listening to speech naming one of the pictures. The time course of eye movements in response to speech revealed significant increases in the efficiency of comprehension over this period. Further, speed and accuracy in spoken word recognition at 25 months were correlated with measures of lexical and grammatical development from 12 to 25 months. Analyses of growth curves showed that children who were faster and more accurate in online comprehension at 25 months were those who showed faster and more accelerated growth in expressive vocabulary across the 2nd year.

    View details for DOI 10.1037/0012-1649.42.1.98

    View details for Web of Science ID 000234844100008

    View details for PubMedID 16420121

    View details for PubMedCentralID PMC3214591

  • Children's developing ability to interpret adjective-noun combinations 30th Annual Boston-University Conference on Language Development Thorpe, K., Baumgartner, H., Fernald, A. CASCADILLA PRESS. 2006: 631–642
  • Dynamics of Word Comprehension in Infancy: Developments in Timing, Accuracy, and Resistance to Acoustic Degradation JOURNAL OF COGNITION AND DEVELOPMENT Zangl, R., Klarman, L., Thal, D., Fernald, A., Bates, E. 2005; 6 (2): 179-208
  • The infant as onlooker: Learning from emotional reactions observed in a television scenario CHILD DEVELOPMENT Mumme, D. L., Fernald, A. 2003; 74 (1): 221-237

    Abstract

    Two studies investigated whether 10- and 12-month-olds can use televised emotional reactions to guide their behavior. Infants watched an actress orient toward 1 of 2 novel objects and react with neutral affect during baseline and with positive or negative affect during test. Infants then had 30 s to interact with the objects. In Study 1, 12-month-olds (N = 32) avoided the target object and showed increases in negative affect after observing the negative-emotion scenario. Twelve-month-olds' responses to positive vs. neutral signals did not differ significantly. In Study 2, 10-month-olds (N = 32) attended to the televised presentations but showed no consistent changes in their object interactions or affect. Thus, 12-month-olds used social information presented on television and associated emotional signals with the intended target.

    View details for Web of Science ID 000181108300016

    View details for PubMedID 12625447

  • Recognition of words referring to present and absent objects by 24-month-olds JOURNAL OF MEMORY AND LANGUAGE Swingley, D., Fernald, A. 2002; 46 (1): 39-56
  • Understanding understanding: Historical origins of current questions about the early development of receptive language competence 32nd Minnesota Symposium on Child Psychology Fernald, A. LAWRENCE ERLBAUM ASSOC PUBL. 2002: 103–131
  • When half a word is enough: Infants can recognize spoken words using partial phonetic information CHILD DEVELOPMENT Fernald, A., Swingley, D., Pinto, J. P. 2001; 72 (4): 1003-1015

    Abstract

    Adults process speech incrementally, rapidly identifying spoken words on the basis of initial phonetic information sufficient to distinguish them from alternatives. In this study, infants in the second year also made use of word-initial information to understand fluent speech. The time course of comprehension was examined by tracking infants' eye movements as they looked at pictures in response to familiar spoken words, presented both as whole words in intact form and as partial words in which only the first 300 ms of the word was heard. In Experiment 1, 21-month-old infants (N = 32) recognized partial words as quickly and reliably as they recognized whole words; in Experiment 2, these findings were replicated with 18-month-old infants (N = 32). Combining the data from both experiments, efficiency in spoken word recognition was examined in relation to level of lexical development. Infants with more than 100 words in their productive vocabulary were more accurate in identifying familiar words than were infants with less than 60 words. Grouped by response speed, infants with faster mean reaction times were more accurate in word recognition and also had larger productive vocabularies than infants with slower response latencies. These results show that infants in the second year are capable of incremental speech processing even before entering the vocabulary spurt, and that lexical growth is associated with increased speed and efficiency in understanding spoken language.

    View details for Web of Science ID 000169846900005

    View details for PubMedID 11480931

  • Speech to infants as hyperspeech: Knowledge-driven processes in early word recognition PHONETICA Fernald, A. 2000; 57 (2-4): 242-254

    Abstract

    The intelligibility of a word in continuous speech depends on the clarity of the word and on linguistic and nonlinguistic contextual information available to the listener. Despite limited knowledge of language and the world, infants in the first 2 years are already beginning to make use of contextual information in processing speech. Adults interacting with infants tend to modify their speech in ways that serve to maximize predictability for the immature listener by highlighting focussed words and using frequent repetition and formulaic utterances. Infant-directed speech is viewed as a form of 'hyperspeech' which facilities comprehension, not by modifying phonetic properties of individual words but rather by providing contextual support on perceptual levels accessible to infants even in the earliest stages of language learning.

    View details for Web of Science ID 000089163200015

    View details for PubMedID 10992144

  • Getting the point across: Content and dynamics in Japanese and American mothers' storytelling to preschool children 24th Annual Boston-University Conference on Language Development Wakabayashi, T., Fernald, A. CASCADILLA PRESS. 2000: 761–772
  • Continuous processing in word recognition at 24 months COGNITION Swingley, D., Pinto, J. P., Fernald, A. 1999; 71 (2): 73-108

    Abstract

    Speech processing in adults in continuous: as acoustic-phonetic information is heard, listeners' interpretation of the speech is updated incrementally. The present studies used a visual fixation technique to examine whether young children also interpret speech continuously. In Experiments 1 and 2, 24-month-old children looked at visual displays while hearing sentences. Sentences each contained a target word labeling one of the two displayed pictures. Children's latency to fixate the labeled picture was measured. Children's responses were delayed when the competing distractor picture's label overlapped phonetically with the target at onset (dog-doll), but not when the pictures' labels rhymed (ball-doll), showing that children monitored the speech stream incrementally for acoustic-phonetic information specifying the correct picture. In Experiment 3, adults' responses in the same task were found to be very similar to those of the 24-month-olds. This research shows that by 24 months, children can interpret speech continuously.

    View details for Web of Science ID 000081801000001

    View details for PubMedID 10444905

  • Rapid gains in speed of verbal processing by infants in the 2nd year PSYCHOLOGICAL SCIENCE Fernald, A., Pinto, J. P., Swingley, D., Weinberg, A., McRoberts, G. W. 1998; 9 (3): 228-231
  • Infants' responses to facial and vocal emotional signals in a social referencing paradigm Biennial Meeting of the Society-for-Research-in-Child-Development Mumme, D. L., Fernald, A., Herrera, C. WILEY-BLACKWELL PUBLISHING, INC. 1996: 3219–37

    Abstract

    The independent effects of facial and vocal emotional signals and of positive and negative signals on infant behavior were investigated in a novel toy social referencing paradigm. 90 12-month-old infants and their mothers were assigned to an expression condition (neutral, happy, or fear) nested within a modality condition (face-only or voice-only). Each infant participated in 3 trials: a baseline trial, an expression trial, and a final positive trial. We found that fearful vocal emotional signals, when presented without facial signals, were sufficient to elicit appropriate behavior regulation. Infants in the fear-voice condition looked at their mothers longer, showed less toy proximity, and tended to show more negative affect than infants in the neutral-voice condition. Happy vocal signals did not elicit differential responding. The infants' sex was a factor in the few effects that were found for infants' responses to facial emotional signals.

    View details for Web of Science ID A1996WN23500034

    View details for PubMedID 9071778

  • Prosody, functors, and word recognition in young children 20th Annual Boston-University Conference on Language Development Swingley, D., Fernald, A., McRoberts, G. W., Pinto, J. P. CASCADILLA PRESS. 1996: 760–767
  • Prosodic bootstrapping: A critical analysis of the argument and the evidence Conference on Signal to Syntax - Bootstrapping from Speech to Grammar in Early Acquisition Fernald, A., McRoberts, G. LAWRENCE ERLBAUM ASSOC PUBL. 1996: 365–388
  • COMMON THEMES AND CULTURAL VARIATIONS IN JAPANESE AND AMERICAN MOTHERS SPEECH TO INFANTS CHILD DEVELOPMENT Fernald, A., Morikawa, H. 1993; 64 (3): 637-656

    Abstract

    This study explored both universal features and cultural variation in maternal speech. Japanese and American mothers' speech to infants at 6, 12, and 19 months was compared in a cross-sectional study of 60 dyads observed playing with toys at home. Mothers' speech in both cultures shared common characteristics, such as linguistic simplification and frequent repetition, and mothers made similar adjustments in their speech to infants of different ages. American mothers labeled objects more frequently and consistently than did Japanese mothers, while Japanese mothers used objects to engage infants in social routines more often than did American mothers. American infants had larger noun vocabularies than did Japanese infants, according to maternal report. The greater emphasis on object nouns in American mothers' speech is only partially attributable to structural differences between Japanese and English. Cultural differences in interactional style and beliefs about child rearing strongly influence the structure and content of speech to infants.

    View details for Web of Science ID A1993LJ94100001

    View details for PubMedID 8339686

  • APPROVAL AND DISAPPROVAL - INFANT RESPONSIVENESS TO VOCAL AFFECT IN FAMILIAR AND UNFAMILIAR LANGUAGES CHILD DEVELOPMENT Fernald, A. 1993; 64 (3): 657-674

    Abstract

    In a series of 5 auditory preference experiments, 120 5-month-old infants were presented with Approval and Prohibition vocalizations in infant-directed (ID) and adult-directed (AD) English, and in ID speech in nonsense English and 3 unfamiliar languages, German, Italian, and Japanese. Dependent measures were looking-time to the side of stimulus presentation, and positive and negative facial affect. No consistent differences in looking-time were found. However, infants showed small but significant differences in facial affect in response to ID vocalizations in every language except Japanese. Infants smiled more to Approvals, and when they showed negative affect, it was more likely to occur in response to Prohibitions. Infants did not show differential affect in response to Approvals and Prohibitions in AD speech. The results indicate that young infants can discriminate affective vocal expressions in ID speech in several languages and that ID speech is more effective than AD speech in eliciting infant affect.

    View details for Web of Science ID A1993LJ94100002

    View details for PubMedID 8339687

  • PROSODY AND FOCUS IN SPEECH TO INFANTS AND ADULTS DEVELOPMENTAL PSYCHOLOGY Fernald, A., MAZZIE, C. 1991; 27 (2): 209-221
  • INTONATION AND COMMUNICATIVE INTENT IN MOTHERS SPEECH TO INFANTS - IS THE MELODY THE MESSAGE CHILD DEVELOPMENT Fernald, A. 1989; 60 (6): 1497-1510

    Abstract

    This study explores the power of intonation to convey meaningful information about the communicative intent of the speaker in speech addressed to preverbal infants and in speech addressed to adults. Natural samples of infant- and adult-directed speech were recorded from 5 mothers of 12-month-old infants, in 5 standardized interactional contexts: Attention-bid, Approval, Prohibition, Comfort, and Game/Telephone. 25 infant-directed and 25 adult-directed vocalizations were electronically filtered to eliminate linguistic content. The content-filtered speech stimuli were presented to 80 adult subjects: 40 experienced parents and 40 students inexperienced with infants. The subjects' task was to identify the communicative intent of the speaker using only prosodic information, given a 5-alternative forced choice. Listeners were able to use intonation to identify the speaker's intent with significantly higher accuracy in infant-directed speech than in adult-directed speech. These findings suggest that the prosodic patterns of speech to infants are more informative than those of adult-adult speech, and may provide the infant with reliable cues to the communicative intent of the speaker. The interpretation of these results proposed here is that the relation of prosodic form to communicative function is made uniquely salient in the melodies of mothers' speech, and that these characteristic prosodic patterns are potentially meaningful to the preverbal infant.

    View details for Web of Science ID A1989CF42800020

    View details for PubMedID 2612255

  • A CROSS-LANGUAGE STUDY OF PROSODIC MODIFICATIONS IN MOTHERS AND FATHERS SPEECH TO PREVERBAL INFANTS JOURNAL OF CHILD LANGUAGE Fernald, A., Taeschner, T., Dunn, J., Papousek, M., DEBOYSSONBARDIES, B., Fukui, I. 1989; 16 (3): 477-501

    Abstract

    This study compares the prosodic modifications in mothers' and fathers' speech to preverbal infants in French, Italian, German, Japanese, British English, and American English. At every stage of data collection and analysis, standardized procedures were used to enhance the comparability across data sets that is essential for valid cross-language comparison of the prosodic features of parental speech. In each of the six language groups, five mothers and five fathers were recorded in semi-structured home observations while speaking to their infant aged 0;10-1;2 and to an adult. Speech samples were instrumentally analysed to measure seven prosodic parameters: mean fundamental frequency (f0), f0-minimum, f0-maximum, f0-range, f0-variability, utterance duration, and pause duration. Results showed cross-language consistency in the patterns of prosodic modification used in parental speech to infants. Across languages, both mothers and fathers used higher mean-f0, f0-minimum, and f0-maximum, greater f0-variability, shorter utterances, and longer pauses in infant-directed speech than in adult-directed speech. Mothers, but not fathers, used a wider f0-range in speech to infants. American English parents showed the most extreme prosodic modifications, differing from the other language groups in the extent of intonational exaggeration in speech to infants. These results reveal common patterns in caretaker's use of intonation across languages, which may function developmentally to regulate infant arousal and attention, to communicate affect, and to facilitate speech perception and language comprehension. In addition to providing evidence for possibly universal prosodic features of speech to infants, these results suggest that language-specific variations are also important, and that the findings of the numerous studies of early language input based on American English are not necessarily generalisable to other cultures.

    View details for Web of Science ID A1989CA03600001

    View details for PubMedID 2808569

  • ACOUSTIC DETERMINANTS OF INFANT PREFERENCE FOR MOTHERESE SPEECH INFANT BEHAVIOR & DEVELOPMENT Fernald, A., Kuhl, P. 1987; 10 (3): 279-293