We are pleased to announce the winners of the Better Data funding competition. Hana D’Souza, from the Centre for Brain and Cognitive Development at Birkbeck, University of London, and Dean D’Souza from UCL Institute of Education, secured £1,500 to support their project:
Embodied language development: Using head-mounted cameras and LENA to understand word learning in atypically developing toddlers.
Project Overview: Technological advancements have helped researchers to understand how typically developing (TD) infants learn words in naturalistic contexts. For example, one study used head-mounted cameras to demonstrate that the body constrains word-learning experiences in TD infants (Yu & Smith, 2012). Another study using a tool called LENA (Language Environment Analysis) found that infants who experience more child-directed speech become more efficient in processing familiar words and have larger vocabularies (Weisleder & Fernald, 2013). Hana and Dean believe that these technologies, which have been used to advance our understanding of typical language development, can provide important insights into atypical development.
In this pilot study, Hana and Dean will use head-mounted cameras and LENA to investigate how language learning actually happens moment-to-moment in toddlers with neurodevelopmental disorders (specifically, Down syndrome and Williams syndrome). Their findings will pave the way to syndrome-specific interventions that target the roots of word learning difficulties.
The Researchers: Hana is a Postdoctoral Research Fellow at Birkbeck, University of London investigating early typical and atypical development and completed her doctorate at Goldsmiths, University of London in 2016. Dean is a Postdoctoral Research Associate investigating the effects of bilingualism on brain and cognitive development at UCL Institute of Education. Dean completed his doctorate at the Centre for Brain and Cognitive Development at Birkbeck, University of London in 2014.
Congratulations to Hana and Dean!