Please enable javascript to view this page in its intended format.

Queen's University

Queen's University Language & Cognition Lab

Children's information seeking strategies

When children search for information, they may return to someone they already know or approach someone they do not know. What determines their choice? We examine one possible factor: the truthfulness of the information obtained in a previous interaction. We expect that receiving truthful information from a person will increase the likelihood for a child to return to the same person in the future.
Children's understanding of age-related knowledge development

Many studies have shown that the epistemic authority of adults is greater that of peers. It is unclear, however, whether children represent adults as knowing everything that children know and more or whether they recognize that in some areas they know more than adults. We have shown that while preschoolers may think that adults know everything that they know, by first grade children recognize that adults do not know everything that children know.

We are currently extending this work to examine how culture contributes to children's representation of peer and adult knowledge. Expectations of deference toward adults, in which Western and East Asian cultures markedly differ, may affect children's representation of knowledge, which in turn may reinforce differences in social behavior. Alternatively, culture may affect public displays of deference but not the cognitive representations of who knows what. We are comparing Japanese and Canadian children to examine these possibilities.

Phonological cues in grammatical categorization

Our lab is part of an international project on the role of multiple cue integration processes in language development. The project is sponsored by the Human Frontier Science Program and is carried out by teams in France, Japan, the U.K., and the U.S. In our experiments, we are looking into how the phonology of children's native language influences the development of grammatical knowledge about another (artificial) language.

Principal collaborators:
Morten Christiansen, Cornell University, USA
Padraic Monaghan, University of Lancaster, UK

Eye movements as an implicit measure of children's source memory

The development of source memory - remembering where, when, from whom or how we have learned what we know - is critical for achieving a number of cognitive and social milestones. Yet source memory appears to develop slowly. A child might remember what object she has seen but not where or when she has seen it. Current understanding of the development of source memory is limited by its almost exclusive assessment by verbal reports. Verbal reports require explicit recollection and conscious awareness of the relevant past experience. In contrast, implicit memory influences current performance without awareness or recollection of the relevant past experience.
In this project, we investigate the relationship between the implicit and explicit source memory of children. Previous research with adults suggests that eye movements reliably target the source of the information that is being retrieved from memory. Thus we use eye movements as an implicit measure of source memory.

Kingston, Ontario, Canada. K7L 3N6. 613.533.2000