Assistant Professor of Psychology
Infants are immersed in a world of immense complexity, yet they display knowledge of the people, objects, actions, and sounds in their environments very early in life.
My research explores the mechanisms that support this early learning. In particular, the ability to detect statistical regularities may play a fundamental role in how infants learn about a highly complex, highly salient aspect of the auditory world: language.
Infants become especially attuned to regularities in the sound patterns of the ambient language, including its phoneme distinctions, sound combinations within words, and its cues to word boundaries in fluent speech. Thus, when infants begin to understand and produce words, they do not start as a blank slate.
I am investigating how infants learn from statistical regularities in the language they hear and the nature of what they learn.
Graf Estes, K., & Bowen, S. (2013). Learning about sounds contributes to learning about words: Effects of prosody and phonotactics on infant word learning. Journal of Experimental Child Psychology, 114(3), 405-417.
Graf Estes, K. (2012). Infants generalize representations of statistically segmented words. Frontiers in Psychology: Language Science, 3.
Graf Estes, K., Evans, J. L., Alibali, M., & Saffran, J. R. (2007). Can infants map meaning to newly segmented words? Statistical segmentation and word learning. Psychological Science, 18 (2), 254-260.