Lab News

Submitted by Monica Charlotte Rachel Cohn on
Lindsay Hippe, Mary Gates Research Scholar

While working in the Language Development and Processing Laboratory under the supervision of Prof. Naja Ferjan Ramírez, prospective SPHSC major and sophomore Lindsay Hippe was awarded a Mary Gates Research Scholarship to study the effect of older siblings on the acquisition of language in babies ages 6-24 months. She describes her hypotheses and findings to date: “The literature that I looked at showed that the presence of older siblings has an overall negative effect on the language development of their younger siblings, so I was expecting to find negative correlations between the presence of older siblings and the vocabulary development of younger siblings. However, in the sample I am currently using, the presence of older siblings does not negatively correlate with younger siblings' vocabulary development as measured by the MacArthur Bates Communicative Development Inventory. The presence of older siblings does in fact affect how many adult words and parentese their younger siblings hear and how many conversational turns they are able to participate in with their parents, so we are now looking to see if there are any aspects of the language environment of the infants in this sample that allows them to catch up vocabulary-wise to their peers without siblings. A couple of preliminary ideas are overheard speech and input from older siblings being conducive to vocabulary development.” Lindsay will be presenting her research at the UW undergraduate research symposium, and is currently writing an abstract for the Boston University Conference on Language Development (BUCLD).