In addition to academic publications, research from the Learning and Development Lab is often cited or featured in the mainstream media. We encourage families to contact us if you are interested in learning more about our research, or to participate in one of our studies.
Dr. Newport has been awarded the Benjamin Franklin Medal in Computer and Cognitive Science.
Dr. Newport has been awarded a Lifetime Achievement Award from the Association of Psychological Science, recognizing her extensive work on language acquisition.
Dr. Newport and her collaborators at the University of Rochester, Dr. Florian Jaeger and Masha Fedzechkina, have published a new study in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS) which examines why and how languages come to be organized the way they are. The authors found evidence to support the idea that human language is based on certain "language universals," to faciliate clear and efficient communication.
Dr. Newport, Director, and co-director Dr. Alexander Dromerick have established a new Center for Brain Plasticity and Recovery, a joint venture between Georgetown University and MedStar National Rehabilitation Network. This center will foster research on plasticity and also the clinical applications of this research for improving recovery from stroke and other neurological disorders.
THE SCIENCE NETWORK
July 23, 2011
The Science Network website covers Elissa Newport's contributions to the 2011 CogSci conference. They feature video coverage of Dr. Newport's talk entitled "The Biology of Language in the 21st Century" as well as a taped interview of Dr. Newport discussing her thoughts and involvement in the conference.
Jonah Lehrer discusses the advantages of the unique way children learn in his Wired Science blog, The Frontal Cortex. He cites Melody Dye's discussion of work from the Newport Lab on inconsistent input as support for the idea that children have a unique, and ultimately advantageous, strategy for making sense of their world.
Our work was cited by Alison Gopnik in her article, How Babies Think, in the Psychology section of Scientific American. Gopnik explains current research on children's strategies of learning about their world. She discusses the findings of Newport and Aslin on statistical learning strategies utilized by infants, and explores the ways children have been shown to conduct scientific "experiments" with their environment to further understand the world.
The research news blog posts an article in their science and technology section, featuring findings from an fMRI study with native ASL signers, and a quote from Newport that states the implications of the results on the way we think about language and the brain. This study was authored by several researchers from the University of Rochester, including Aaron Newman, Ted Supalla, Peter Hauser, Elissa Newport, and Daphne Bavelier.
The Rochester Review interviewed Paul Frommer, a University of Rochester alum who is the creator of the elaborate Na'vi language used in the popular film Avatar. Newport was interviewed in the article as a language acquisition expert. She commented on the vocabulary and construction of the language, discussing how the elements that make up the Na'vi language are the same basic elements that make up all languages.
The National Institute of Health Record reports highlights from a lecture by Newport on how children shape languages. The article mentions research from the Newport Lab on the development of Nicaraguan Sign Language, as well as artificial language studies with children and adults. The results from these studies support the idea that children, not adults, are the driving force behind language change and structure development.
ABC News does a story called "Good Grammar in All of Us" on work from the Newport Lab on Nicaraguan sign language. The observation that Nicaraguan home-signers use aspects of grammar found in all languages is discussed. The Nicaraguan home-signers included unviersal grammar characterisitics in their made-up language, despite lack of experience with any pre-existing languages. The implications of these findings are considered.
Our work is cited in the SEED Magazine article "Ramparts of Speech". Researchers from the Newport Lab observed three Nicaraguan home signers who had never been exposed to conventional languages, and yet included complex grammatical elements in their own languages, lending credibility to the hypothesis that the development of grammatical categories in a language is an innate predisposition about how humans construct communication systems, rather than learned from linguistic input.
ScienceDaily posts an article on the statistical learning studies by Newport and Aslin from the University of Rochester. They discuss the findings that adults and children subconsciously track statistical data from their input, and can use this information to help learn about language and other aspects of their environment. For example, tracking statistical data can help adults and children learn word boundaries in new languages.