Casey Lew-WIlliams, Professor and Director of Graduate Studies in the Department of Psychology, Princeton University
Title: Dynamics of communication in infants’ lives
Abstract: The best future for developmental and language sciences will be one that embraces both descriptive research and great experiments. We can all look forward to the new hypotheses that emerge from this union, which will position us wonderfully to create novel models of learning, growth, and change. In my talk, I will present a combination of controlled experiments and entirely natural studies of communication between infants and caregivers, which together show the benefits of sampling at short timescales (milliseconds to minutes) as well as long ones (hours to months). In doing so, I question the tendency to isolate diverse topics in research on early communication, because a complete account will need to include work on (for example) word meanings, emotion, brain-to-brain synchrony, infants' social networks, and cultural variation. Collectively, I use this research to get us closer to seeing development as it really is: a dynamic, noisy, continuous, embodied, and highly variable process, scaffolded by the local social world.