Makeba Parramore Wilbourn

Makeba Parramore Wilbourn

Associate Professor of the Practice of Psychology and Neuroscience

Education & Training

  • Ph.D., Cornell University 2008

  • M.A., California State University at Fullerton 2001

  • B.A., California State University at Fullerton 1997


My program of research explores how the relationship between cognition and language changes over time and the types of input (e.g., gestures, bilingualism) that influence this relationship. In general, my research addresses three key theoretical questions. First, how does cognition influence language early in development? In particular, I am interested in how infants and toddlers’ developing cognitive and perceptual skills lay the foundation for early word learning and how this changes as a function of input and experience. Secondly, how does language come to influence cognition in children and adults? In this line of research, I am interested in determining how various types of linguistic and cultural experiences affect the cognitive abilities of monolinguals and bilinguals throughout development. Finally, how does the use of gesture influence the relationship between cognition and language? This area of research focuses on the relationship between early gesture use and later language development and how this relationship is influenced by socio-cultural factors, such as race and socioeconomic status.


Development, gesture, early word learning, cognition and language, socio-cultural factors

Robertson, SS, Watamura, SE, and Wilbourn, MP. "Attentional dynamics of infant visual foraging." Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America 109.28 (2012): 11460-11464. Full Text

Wilbourn, MP, and Casasola, M. "Hand me a cue: Developmental changes in infants’ associative word learning abilities (Submitted)." Developmental Psychology (2012). (Academic Article)

Kalia, V, Wilbourn, MP, and Ghio, K. "Age of second language acquisition and language proficiency interactively influence bilinguals’ cognition (Submitted)." Bilingualism: Cognition & Language (2012). (Academic Article)

Kalia, V, and Wilbourn, MP. "Changing frames of reference: Language impacts cognition and memory in Indian bilinguals (Submitted)." Journal of Cross Cultural Psychology (2012). (Academic Article)

Wilbourn, MP, and Casasola, M. "Discriminating signs: Perceptual precursors to acquiring a visual-gestural language." Infant Behavior and Development 30.1 (2007): 153-160. Full Text

Casasola, M, Wilbourn, MP, and Yang, S. "Can English-learning toddlers acquire and generalize a novel spatial word?." First Language 26.2 (December 1, 2006): 187-205. Full Text