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Science Spotlight                                          Autumn 2022

How perceived emotions impact toddlers' word learning

In everyday life, young language learners observe their caregivers display a wide range of emotional expressions. You may notice a change in your baby's attention when speaking in a happy or sad voice, or when making funny faces. In a recently published study, Shirly Ma and colleagues from LuCiD have shown that new words can be learned regardless of what emotional expressions we display. However among emotionally neutral, happy, or disgusted context, it’s emotionally negative expressions and the information associated with them that grab toddlers' attention most. Please read Shirly's recent blog to find out more or read the published article in SRCD.

Are lockdown babies behind on communication milestones?

Language research suggests that babies born during lockdown meet some language and communication milestones later. Coming into contact with fewer people and parental work responsibilities while caring for their babies could explain this delay. Katie Alcock (Lancaster University) recently published an article in The Conversation and suggests talking to your toddler as much as possible will support language development even though parents from different cultures talk to their babies in different ways.

Complex sentences: from comprehension to production 

Understanding complex sentences that convey temporal and causal relations is critical to children's learning and academic success. In Phase One of LuCiD, our researchers have explored some of the factors influencing children’s understanding of complex sentences. In our current project (LuCiD Phase Two), we now aim to determine the extent to which the factors that underpin comprehension also apply to the more demanding task of complex sentence production. Find out more about our current project and how to get involved if you are a parent of a 3-5-year old in Shijie Zhang's recent blog post.


LuCiD Travel Awards
Congratulations to Elena Altmann (Lancaster University) and Liam Blything (University of Liverpool) who were awarded the LuCiD travel awards for 2022. Liam will be visiting University of Texas in Austin and Elena will be visiting the Max Planck Institute for Psycholinguistics in Nijmegen. 

LuCiD Summer Internship 
This year three UG students embarked on a  6-week journey to gain experience and insight into scientific research during the summer break. The first blog is now out and you can read Phoebe Shaw's experience at the Lancaster University Babylab.
PhD Monthly Coffee Mornings

Anna Brown (University of Liverpool) and Phoebe Harding-Walker (University of Manchester) are building a PhD network across the three partner Universities with PhD researchers that are loosely affiliated with LuCiD. The primary purpose of this group is to share advice with peers and to discuss anything related to language development that the group deems interesting in an informal setting held online once a month. Please get in touch if you would like to get involved.

LuCiD Publication
Research findings from one of LuCiD Phase One projects is now published. Gemma Taylor and colleagues found that apps with a learning goal tend to have features that scaffold learning better including higher quality language input. Here is the link to the full article.


LuCiD Seminar Series

It has been great to see so many people attend our online and hybrid seminars. The first seminar was in Liverpool this September. Prof Usha Goswami (University of Cambridge) gave her talk on Language Acquisition: A Temporal Sampling Perspective. In October we had Prof Michael Frank's (Stanford University) seminar on Modelling children's early language learning by building cross-linguistic data resources and Dr Mathilde Fort (Université Grenoble Alpes) gave her talk on Exploring the role of visual attention control in early language acquisition in early November.

Please click here to
 view all recordings and don’t forget to encourage any new members of your team to join our seminar mailing list

Upcoming LuCiD seminar
6th December 2022 (11am in Manchester) our very own Prof Elena Lieven (University of Manchester) will give her talk on UG approaches to language development: How have they responded to challenges from the usage-based approach?

LuCiD Knowledge exchange
We are looking forward to our next training session this winter. LuCiD’s own Liam Blything (University of Liverpool) will share his experience on Online Testing using Gorilla in December and Andrew Jessop (University of Liverpool) will share his knowledge on Power Analysis in January next year. 


Better Health Start for Life
The creators of Hungry Little Minds are taking the opportunity to build on and move their resources to the NHS Better Health Start for Life website. This move reflects the fact that promoting the HLE is just one part of the wraparound support provided to ensure every child has the best start in life – and will make it easier for families to find help with their HLE. Visitors to the Hungry Little Minds site will be redirected to the new site automatically.

Oldham REAL Beginnings Project
Oldham Council, the National Children’s Bureau (NCB) and Bridgewater Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust worked in collaboration to deliver the Oldham 0-2 REAL Beginnings project. LuCiD researchers evaluated the effect of the programme on children’s development and parents’ and practitioners’ confidence in supporting them. This case study details the 0-2 REAL Beginnings project.

DLD Awareness
Developmental Language Disorder (DLD) is a lifelong condition affecting 2 children in every average classroom of 30 in the UK and raising awareness can help break stigmas. October 14th was DLD Awareness Day and Speech and Language UK have created a particularly resinating video that we feel is worth watching. Click here to watch Darcie's Story. Raising Awareness of Developmental Language Disorder (RADLD) have also created a great video that summarises this disorder.

Take part in our research

Please consider registering with us if you live in close proximity to one of our Labs at Manchester, Lancaster or Liverpool or see if we have an online study that matches your child's age. We have a number of online studies and need children aged 5 months - 11 years as well as primary school teachers to take part in these. All the studies are designed to be fun and are a nice way to add a bit of variety to your day! Find out how you can take part.

Have a look at UoM Child Study Centre's introduction video and find out what to expect when taking part in studies at our Manchester research site. 

The ESRC International Centre for Language and Communicative Development (LuCiD) is a collaboration between the universities of Lancaster, Liverpool and Manchester. Our mission is to bring about a step change in the understanding of how children learn to communicate with language, and deliver the evidence base necessary to design effective interventions in early years’ education and healthcare. We are funded by the 
Economic and Social Research Council under the Centres Transition Scheme (ref: ES/S0071131). 
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