Ph.D. 1997, University of Rochester
How do children acquire their native language? My research focuses on the kinds of learning abilities required to master the complexities of language. Three broad issues characterize my work. 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.
Pelucchi, B., Hay, J. F., & Saffran, J. R. (2009). Statistical learning in a natural language by 8-month odl infants. Child Development, 80
Saffran, J. R., Hauser, M., Seibel, R., Kapfhamer, J., Tsao, F., & Cushman, F. (2008). Grammatical pattern learning by human infants and cotton-top tamarin monkeys. Cognition, 107
Graf Estes, K. M., Evans, J., Alibali, M. W., & Saffran, J. R. (2007) Can infants map meaning to newly segmented words? Statistical segmentation and word learning. Psychological Science, 18
Thiessen, E. D., Hill, E., & Saffran, J. R. (2005). Infant-directed speech facilitates word segmentation. Infancy, 7
Saffran, J. R. (2003). Statistical language learning: Mechanisms and constraints. Current Directions in Psychological Science, 12