The James S. McDonnell Foundation has awarded psychology professor Daniel Yurovsky a multi-year grant through its 21st Century Science Initiative to support research on how children coordinate learning language with adults.
Yurovsky is Assistant Professor in the Department of Psychology and Director of the Communication and Learning Lab (CaLLab) at the Center for Early Childhood Research. The Lab’s research focuses on how children’s language learning mechanisms and learning environments interact.
“The problem to understand is not how children learn language, but how children and their caregivers construct it together,” Yurovsky said in his proposal to the Foundation. CaLLab experiments have previously investigated how children process speech and social cues like eye gaze to determine what people are talking about, as well as how adults tune their speech to individual children’s capacities.
The McDonnell Foundation’s Understanding Human Cognition Scholar Awards are granted to researchers identified by their peers as “likely to continue to make important theoretical or conceptual contributions advancing our understanding of how neurological function enables cognition and behavior.” According to Yurovsky, the new funding will help CaLLab develop tools needed to build models that predict “how quickly children will learn, which kinds of words they should learn first, and how learning will vary in different environments.”
The McDonnell Foundation was founded in 1950 by James S. McDonnell, the late aerospace pioneer and founder of what became the McDonnell Douglas Corporation. Its 21st Century Science Initiative supports the “responsible application of knowledge for solving real world problems,” including basic and applied research in cognitive neuroscience, cognitive psychology and cognitive science.