Learning Vocabulary and Grammar

Janellen Huttenlocher University of Chicago (retired)

Huttenlocher_JanellenJanellen Huttenlocher has published on a range of research topics, including language, spatial coding in adults and children, quantitative development, and memory. Huttenlocher has been particularly interested in the role of the child’s environment in the development of cognitive skills. One of her most famous findings is that the verbal behavior of parents and teachers not only determined children’s vocabulary growth, but also their grammatical learning. Huttenlocher has also conducted research on conceptual representation and memory, including the role of concepts in people’s memories of events. Her research reveals that if people are uncertain of an event’s position within a chunk of time, they err toward the middle; asked what day they had been visited by an interviewer four days to 75 days earlier, the errors tended to run toward Wednesday. But they were able to distinguish whether the visit occurred on a weekday or weekend. Huttenlocher also has influenced generations of young psychologists through her mentorship and teaching. Her contributions to the future of psychology has been far-reaching and profound and she is the recipient of a 25th anniversary APS William James Fellow Award for her significant intellectual contributions to the basic science of psychology. Read more about Huttenlocher’s research here.