Language Development Lab

Welcome to the Duke University Language Development Lab!

Our goal in the Language Development Lab is to learn more about how infants and young children become interested in language. We conduct several cross-linguistic studies that help us understand what components of language are universally appealing to infants. 

In many of our current studies, we are interested in finding out whether infants prefer to listen to one kind of speech sound over others. To examine this, we use several speech stimuli, including:

  • English infant-directed speech versus English adult-directed speech to examine whether infants prefer infant-directed speech ("motherese" or "baby talk") over adult-directed speech.
  • English infant-directed speech versus Japanese infant-directed speech to examine at what age infants begin to prefer/distinguish the sounds of their native language over other languages.
  • Chinese, Korean, and Japanese infant-directed speech versus adult-directed speech. This examines whether infants can distinguish between infant-directed speech and adult-directed speech in other languages besides their own.
  • Japanese High-Low vs. Low-High lexical pitch-accents to examine the developmental changes in the way English-learning infants hear different pitch-accent patterns in Japanese.
  • Mandarin Chinese High-Low vs. Low-High lexical tones to examine the developmental changes in the way English-learning infants hear different tones in Mandarin Chinese.

Participating in our research is fun and easy, and we are always looking for participants!