My primary research area is early cognitive development. I investigate the processes involved in young children’s learning about the world through symbolic means, such as language, pictures, videos, and replica objects. I am especially interested in children’s use of language to think and communicate about what is perceptually not present. Developing the ability to communicate about absent objects and events is a major cognitive achievement, one that enables children to learn about the world indirectly. My research is focusing on the social, linguistic and representational factors that influence children’s learning about the world. I am also interested in how children develop and understanding of the pragmatics of language and of social cognition.
Gabrielle received her Ph.D. and M. S. from Vanderbilt University in Psychology, and her B. A. in Psychology from Northwestern University. Gabrielle’s research is focused on exploring supportive situations for young children’s learning and transfer of information from media to the real world, including parent-child conversations during co-viewing.
Heather received her Hon. BSc. in psychology from Dalhousie University. As the laboratory manager of the Language and Learning lab, Heather oversees the work of research assistants and keeps the lab running day-to-day. In terms of research, Heather’s primary interests include memory and learning.
Interesting fact: Heather recently walked along the Great Wall of China and visited Ko Phi Phi Leh, Thailand – the film set for the 2000 movie The Beach.
2nd year PhD student in DPE program
Ruth is interested in how multiple dimensions of the ability to construct and update mental models of stories as they unfold, and the ability to integrate these components, emerge and develop in and beyond childhood. She is particularly interested in prediction, and has used short stories in video format to investigate the effect of picture-text encoding conditions on children’s ability to use an inference to update a mental representation. She is developing an interest in how children and adults predict upcoming linguistic input in a narrative context, and has also worked with autistic adolescents to investigate their strategies during narrative comprehension. Ruth hopes to use the situation model as a theoretical framework to investigate new ways of tapping children’s narrative competence.
2nd year PhD student in DPE program
Kadria received her B.A. in Hispanic and Italian Studies from the University of Victoria. After working overseas in Israel and South America, she completed her M.A. in Child Study and Education at the University of Toronto. At the Language and Learning Lab, her research is focused on children’s ability to distinguish fact from fiction in picture books and their learning and transfer of information from pictures to reality.
1st year PhD student in DPE program
Begum received her BA in Philosophy from Middle East Technical University and MA in Psychology from Bogazici University, Turkey. Her primary research interest covers how early development of cognitive processes and their interrelations enable children to acquire knowledge about the world around them. She is particularly interested in the dynamic relations between mental representation and emerging language ability.
Interesting fact: As a child, she believed she and her elder brother emerged simultaneously in mother’s womb but she waited 7 years inside for her elder brother to grow up before being born.
2nd year BSc student
Vanessa is a second year student at the University of Toronto, currently working towards an Honours Bachelor of Science in Neuroscience, Cell and Molecular Biology and a minor in Immunology. Vanessa is greatly interested in learning mechanisms, cognitive and memory processes, as well as plasticity in the brain.
Interesting Fact: One of Vanessa’s favourite hobbies includes travelling – she has visited many places all over Europe and South America, including France, Spain and various cities throughout Mexico.
2nd year BA student
Caroline is working towards her Bachelors in Psychology and Economics at the University of Toronto. Her interest for research initiated her to joint the Research Opportunity Program at the Language and Learning Lab. Caroline has a keen interest in how the development of the brain influences cognitive processes, memory formations, and social interactions.
2nd year BA student
Anastasia is currently working on a BA in Linguistics at the University of Toronto. She is joining the Language and Learning Lab as part of the Research Opportunity Program and is particularly excited to observe language acquisition in children within a research setting.
1st Year MA Student in CSE Program
Nicole received her Honours B.A. in Political Science and Social Justice and Peace Studies from the University of Western Ontario. She is particularly interested in how children learn from picture books and the impact that books can have on their development and their social relations.
Interesting Fact: Nicole has a 5-year-old lizard named after her favourite Ninja Turtle, Donatello.
Kelly received a Bachelor of Science with Honours in Psychology and French from Dalhousie University. She’s interested in child development and hopes to pursue graduate school and a career in the field.
Interesting fact: Kelly ran her first half marathon in Halifax, Nova Scotia this summer. She hopes to someday work her way up to a full marathon.