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Joint PhD Project Extends Research Collaboration Between Aarhus University (IMC) & University of York

The project will investigate the extent to which infants’ inferential capacities and exploratory behaviour mutually interact to facilitate knowledge acquisition in the process of language development.

2019.06.28 | Anne-Mette Pedersen

A central question in the study of human development concerns the nature of the processes that enable infants to discover the structure of their immediate environment. Infants spend a substantial portion of their time and energy exploring the dynamics of specific actions and predicting their associated consequences.

This joint PhD project will use an interactive digital interface that responds to infants’ production of speech sounds with colourful shapes in different positions on a screen. Infants will be tested on whether they can learn to expect the appearance of a shape based on their exploration of the probabilistic universe by means of their vocalisations.

The combination of AU’s technical expertise and UoY’s experimental knowhow provides a productive research framework for capturing this real-time exploratory behaviour and measuring the impact on infants’ learning process over time.

The project also serves as a reflection and an extension of the proven track record of joint collaboration between research institutions in Aarhus and York.

The project will be carried out by Christopher Cox (MA graduate in Phonetics & Phonology at UoY, a former IMC Visiting Student and newly accepted PhD Student at AU) and jointly supervised by Dr. Riccardo Fusaroli (IMC Researcher and Associate Professor at AU), Dr. Tamar Keren-Portnoy (Senior Lecturer at UoY) and Dr. Andreas Roepstorff (Professor and Director of IMC).