Principal Investigator

Dr. Linda SmithLinda B. Smith, PhD. Chancellor's Professor

CV, faculty webpage

Research Interests: Perceptual and cognitive development in early childhood; classification and categorization; interactions between perception and language.

Smith Lab researchers


Char with Yo and Haru Char Wozniak, Lab Manager/Research Coordinator

Research Interests: Children are born curious, like scientists, actively exploring their world. They spontaneously experiment - they smell, taste, bite, coo, cry, giggle, blow, hum and touch - they shake, punch, squeeze, push, crush, rub and try to pull things apart. I am intensely interested in observing children and exploring the many ways they learn about their world.

Lizzie HartLizzie Hart, Project Manager

Research Interests: There are many different ways to get to the same end goal. Every day we adjust our routes and paths to account for new obstacles. In atypical development the challenge is to find a way around the road blocks that are unique to different disorders as well as unique between different children. Before we can come up with work arounds for children who are developing atypically we must first understand the multitude of pathways and routes which a typically developing child can take during development.

Charlene TayCharlene Tay, Project Manager

Research Interests: As a graduate student studying Data Science with the School of Informatics and Computing, I am interested in using data mining and machine learning techniques to investigate how children learn words from their active engagement with the world. When it comes to language acquisition, children are more sophisticated than the best computers. They can gain knowledge about objects by integrating information from themselves (see, hear, touch), or from a social partner (names, gestures, and actions). My current research studies the types of input that infants and toddlers receive to help them solve the word-learning problem of referential uncertainty in cluttered real life settings.

Swapnaa Jayaraman Swapnaa Jayaraman, Assistant Scientist

CV, webpage

Research Interests: Development is all about change: macro changes like motor milestones and micro changes like neural organization, connectivity and growth. When and how do these changes occur? What are the mechanisms behind these changes? What factors affect these changes? These are questions that developmental scientists are trying to answer in small and large ways. I am particularly interested in how infants perceive, process, and understand faces, and how age, experience, and the environment affect these processes. I take both neurological as well as behavioral approaches to answering these questions.

Umay Suanda Umay Suanda, Postdoctoral Fellow


Research Interests: My research interests are in the broad area of children's language acquisition with a focus on children's word learning. What are the mechanisms that underlie children's word learning? How do these processes evolve and change over development? What accounts for the individual differences we see in vocabulary acquisition? My current research in the Cognitive Development Lab focuses on the nature of the perceptual, social, and linguistic input parents provide to children at different ages, and how this input helps shape the learning processes involved in children's word learning.

Lauren Slone Lauren Slone, Postdoctoral Fellow


Research Interests: I am interested in mechanisms of perceptual and cognitive development in infancy and early childhood. My research investigates the structure of children's early environments and how children's visual, motor, and linguistic experiences help them learn about, and from, that structure. I am particularly interested in multisensory learning and in how children's individual learning histories affect their future learning. My research employs a variety of behavioral methods, including eye tracking, recording looking time, and analyzing naturalistic parent-infant interactions.

Catarina Vales Catarina Vales, Graduate Student

CV, webpage

Research Interests: Everyday learning takes place in a real environment that offers many potential targets for attention and learning, as well as changing momentary goals. How does the child select and stabilize attention for word learning? What role does word learning itself play in organizing a child's attention? My main goal is to study the developmental changes in attention to further investigate the role of the attentional processes in word learning, including object labels and adjectives.

Paulo Carvalho Paulo Carvalho, Graduate Student

CV, webpage

Research Interests: How did we learn what a spoon is and how it is different from a fork? Does it matter how many spoons we've seen, when we saw them and how different they were? Our environment is full of different objects. One way we use to make sense of this great amount of information is by grouping objects together into groups or categories. My research focuses on how different experiences with objects change how we group them and how this changes across development.

Catalina Suarez-Rivera Catalina Suarez-Rivera, Graduate Student


Research Interests: Language acquisition during infancy is the focus of my research. I am currently interested in studying the role that parents play in this process, by analyzing their "sensitive" behaviors during play sessions with their infants. Specifically, I examine the increased learning opportunities that take place during moments of parent-infant coordinated attention, establishing a link between caregiver sensitivity, joint attention and word learning.

Elizabeth Clerkin Elizabeth Clerkin, Graduate Student

Research Interests: I am broadly interested in how young children learn language and how language interacts with other cognitive processes, including shape processing. Children who have trouble learning language also have trouble in tasks requiring them to represent the abstract shapes of objects, but it is not known whether the limitations we see in these high level tasks are specific to high level skills alone or are perhaps related to deficits in the development of low or mid level skills. I would like to investigate the developmental time course of low, mid, and high level visual shape perception and the predictive relationship between these different visual skills and early word learning.

Matthew Jones Matthew Jones, Graduate Student

Research Interests: Across languages and cultures, people perceive certain sounds, signs, and gestures as fitting certain meanings. But how much of a role does iconicity (fit between form and meaning) play in natural language? Having previously worked on artificial language learning experiments with adults, I'm visiting the IUB Cognitive Development Lab from University College London to explore children's sensitivity to iconic gestures, and these gestures' role in directing attention and facilitating word learning.

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Susan Jones, Indiana University

Chen Yu, Indiana University

Karin James, Indiana University

Michael Gasser, Indiana University

Kelly Mix, Michigan State University

Cynthia Breazeal, Massachusetts Institute of Technology

John Spencer, University of Iowa

Thea Ionescu, Babes-Bolyai University, Cluj-Napoca, Romania

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Former Students

Viridiana Benitez, Postdoctoral Fellow, University of Wisconsin, Madison

Lisa Byrge, Postdoctoral Fellow, Indiana University, Bloomington

Lisa Cantrell, Postdoctoral Fellow, Department of Psychology, University of California, Davis

Eliana Colunga, Assistant Professor, Department of Psychology, University of Colorado at Boulder

Leonidas Doumas, Lecturer, University of Edinburgh

Caitlin Fausey, Assistant Professor, Department of Psychology, University of Oregon

John Franchak, Assistant Professor, Department of Psychology, University of California, Riverside

Lisa Gershkoff-Stowe, Associate Professor of Speech and Hearing Sciences, Indiana University

Rima Hanania, Researcher, Psychological and Brain Sciences, Indiana University

Shohei Hidaka, Assistant Professor, School of Knowledge Science, Japan Advanced Institute of Science and Technology

Thomas Hills, Associate Professor, Psychology, University of Warwick, United Kingdom

Steve Hockema, Senior Scientist and Partner, Aji, LLC

Hye-Won Hong, Professor, Psychology Department, California State University

Donald Katz, Assistant Professor, Dept. of Psychology and Volen Center for Complex Systems, Brandeis University

Alan Kersten, Associate Professor, Department of Psychology, Florida Atlantic University

Megumi Kuwabara, Assistant Professor, Child Development, California State University, Dominguez Hills

Jennifer Lanter, Assistant Professor, Human Development & Psychology, University of Wisconsin at Green Bay

Josita Maouene, Assistant Professor, Psychology Department, Grand Valley State University

Teresa Mitchell, Assistant Professor, Eunice Kennedy Shriver Center, University of Massachusetts Medical School

Jessica Montag, Assistant Research Psychologist, University of California, Riverside

Alfredo Pereira, Adjunct Assistant Researcher, School of Psychology, Universidade do Minho, Portugal

Richard Prather, Assistant Professor, Educational Psychology, Human Development and Quantitative Methodology, University of Maryland

Brigette Ryalls, Associate Professor, Psycholgy Department, University of Nebraska at Omaha

Larissa Samuelson, Associate Professor, Department of Psychology, University of Iowa

Catherine Sandhofer, Associate Professor, Department of Psychology, University of California, Los Angeles

Maria Sera, Professor, Institute of Child Development, University of Minnesota

Nitya Sethuraman, Assistant Professor, Department of Psychology, University of Michigan

Adam Sheya, Assistant Professor, Psychology, University of Connecticut

Ji Son, Assistant Professor, Department of Psychology, California State University, Los Angeles

Sandra Street, Assistant Professor, Psychology, University of Wisconsin at Whitewater

Amanda Walley, Associate Professor, Department of Psychology, University of Alabama at Birmingham

Hanako Yoshida, Associate Professor, Department of Psychology, University of Houston

Dan Yurovsky, Postdoctoral Fellow, Department of Psychology, Stanford University, California

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