My master's was awarded in March, 2009. I am currently in Canada, moving forward with my research when I can fit it around work.
I am interested in infants' skills of joint attention and intention recognition, and the roles these two abilities play in language acquisition.
Allow me to elaborate.... There is pretty solid evidence that, sharing a child's attention using referential cues will facilitate the learning of object labels. For example, a mother looks at a kiwi bird and says "Look, junior. There's a kiwi over there!" A child can follow the mother's gaze to the bird and learn that it is called a 'kiwi', sometimes after only one exposure. It's not the only way that words are learned and it's not a necessary condition, but it does help.
However, this ability does not emerge until approximately 18 months of age, even though speech generally begins around 12 months of age. Why at 18 months? What is going on inside the little brain when it happens? These are some of the questions for my research.
Caza, G. A. and Knott, A. Pragmatic Bootstrapping: a neural network model of vocabulary acquisition. 2011, in press.
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Yu, C. and Ballard, D. H. (2007). A unified model of early word learning: Integrating statistical and social cues. Neurocomputing, 70, , 2149-2165.
Department of Computer Science
University of Otago
PO Box 56
Last modified: Tuesday, 01-Mar-2011 16:47:24 NZDT