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Michael H. Goldstein

Associate Professor

  • 270 Uris Hall
  • Cornell University
  • Ithaca NY 14853-7601
    Office Hours:
    By appointment


How do infants learn to talk? My research focuses on the developmental processes by which knowledge of speech and language is acquired from the social environment. I use a comparative approach, studying vocal learning and development in young songbirds and humans. To investigate the processes by which infant development is constructed from interactions with caregivers, I take a micro-analytic approach to social learning. I observe and manipulate parent-offspring interactions at small time scales to understand mechanisms of developmental change. My primary research goal is to identify parameters of social interaction that are crucial for infant learning to better understand causal forces of development. These parameters take the form of perceptual mechanisms in the infant (e.g., pattern recognition and statistical learning) and of structure in the social environment (e.g., caregivers´┐Ż infant-directed speech and responsiveness to prelinguistic vocalizations). This general goal has given rise to four research programs, all organized around the development of communication and language.

The first program examines adults´┐Ż responses to prelinguistic vocalizations. The second program investigates the development of vocal communication in prelinguistic infants, specifying the relative contributions of infant and caregiver behavior in the generation of new vocal forms, including speech and phonology. The third program assesses the impact of social responses to babbling on early word learning and vocabulary development, demonstrating how social feedback guides infants across the transitions from babbling to words to syntax. The fourth program investigates the role of social cues (e.g., infant-directed speech and intersensory redundancy of speech and motion cues) in cognitive development, with a focus on word learning. By studying social interaction and learning as it occurs in moment-to-moment interactions, I aim to connect specific mechanisms of perceptual and cognitive development with social influences on the acquisition of speech, words, and language.

Please see the B.A.B.Y. Lab website for recent publications and more details on my research.

Perception, Cognition & Development
Behavioral & Evolutionary Neuroscience

updated on Monday, May 18 2015 @ 1:56pm