About the Baby Lab
The North Park University Baby Lab conducts research on language acquisition and cognitive development in infants and toddlers between the ages of 4-30 months. The goal is to discover how young children represent sounds, how they learn new words, and how they process variable information in speech, such as foreign accents and dialects.
Recent Baby Lab studies have looked at language acquisition in 20-, 24-, and 30-month-olds. Different research studies vary depending on the age of the child. In some studies researchers measure the child’s looking preferences to pictures while listening to speech sounds, while in others they measure the amount of time it takes for the child to get used to a picture or sound that is repeated several times.
Dr. Rachel Schmale, director of the Baby Lab, came to North Park University in fall 2008 after her graduate training in developmental psychology at Purdue University. Her research asks the question: How is children’s acquisition of language affected by language variability? In particular, she is interested in how young children’s early representations of words are impacted by variation in voice, dialect, foreign accent, and emotion.
Participating in Studies
Research in the Baby Lab depends on the voluntary participation of parents and their young children. Parents who would like to volunteer their children to participate in a language acquisition study can learn more about the experience and contact the lab for more details or to sign up.
The following papers may not be final versions and may differ from the published versions minimally.
- Schmale, R., Cristià, A., & Seidl, A. (2012). Toddlers recognize words in an unfamiliar accent after brief exposure. Developmental Science, 15(6), 732-738.
- Schmale, R., Hollich, G. J., & Seidl, A. (2011). Contending with foreign accent in early word learning. Journal of Child Language, 38, 1096-1108.
- Schmale, R., Cristià, A., Seidl, A., & Johnson, E. K. (2010). Developmental changes in infants’ ability to cope with dialect variation in word recognition. Infancy, 15(6), 650-662.
- Schmale, R., & Seidl, A. (2009). Accommodating variability in voice and foreign accent: Flexibility of early word representations. Developmental Science, 12(4), 583–601.