Jenny Saffran

Jenny Saffran Picture
528 Psychology
(608) 262-9942

Ph.D. 1997, University of Rochester

Infant Learning Lab
Little Listeners Lab

Research Interest

How do children acquire their native language? Our research focuses on the kinds of learning abilities required to master the complexities of language. Three broad issues characterize the research conducted in the Infant Learning Lab. One line of research asks what kinds of learning emerge in infancy. A second line of research probes the biases that shape human learning abilities, and the relationship between these biases and the structure of human languages. A third issue concerns the extent to which the learning abilities underlying this process are specifically tailored for language acquisition. Related research concerns infant music perception, and the relationship between music and language learning. Finally, we investigate the manner in which language learning and language processing unfold in infants and children at risk for language disorders.

Representative Publications

Wojcik, E., & Saffran. J. R. (2013). Toddlers encode similarity structure when learning novel words. Psychological Science, 24, 1898-1905.

Romberg, A. R., & Saffran, J. R. (2013). Infant sequence learning in real time. Frontiers in Developmental Psychology. doi:10.3389/fpsyg.2012.00610

Willits, J., Wojcik, E., Seidenberg, M., & Saffran, J. R. (2013). Lexical semantic knowledge in 24-month-olds. Infancy, 18, 1053-1075.

Lew-Williams, C., & Saffran, J. R. (2012). All words are not created equal: Expectations about word length guide infant statistical learning. Cognition, 122, 241-246.

Hay, J. F., Pelucchi, B., Graf Estes, K., & Saffran, J. R. (2011). Linking sounds to meanings: Infant statistical learning in a natural language. Cognitive Psychology, 63, 93-106.

Lany, J., & Saffran, J. R. (2010). From statistics to meanings: Infant acquisition of lexical categories. Psychological Science, 21, 284-291.

Evans, J., Saffran, J. R., & Robe-Torres, K. (2009). Statistical learning in children with Specific Language Impairments. Journal of Speech, Language, & Hearing Research, 52, 321-335.

Grieco-Calub, T. M., Saffran, J. R., & Litovsky, R. (2009). Spoken word recognition in toddlers who use cochlear implants. Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research, 52, 1390-1400.