Why are children more successful at learning a new language compared to adults? Elissa Newport has devoted her career to studying human language acquisition, including the learning differences between children and adults. In her “less-is-more” hypothesis, she posits that children are better able than adults to learn languages because, paradoxically, they have fewer cognitive resources available to them. They naturally catch on to small parts of a language — sometimes making them even more regular than they were in the input language — and acquire its more complex or irregular aspects as they mature. In contrast, adults struggle to master a new language because they try to analyze the complexities from the start and do not as readily find the broad patterns. Newport’s most recent work uses functional MRI to examine how signed and spoken languages are represented in the brain and how language is reorganized after brain damage or disease.
Expert commentary from Vanessa LoBue on emotional development and the effect of emotion and experience on perception and learning. [April 1, 2020] More
A sample of research exploring interpretation bias in anxiety and depression, neural reward responsiveness in children with suicidal ideation, and eye movements and false-memory rates. More
A new report by the National Academy of Sciences, penned by psychological scientists and other experts, calls for broad-based efforts by the US government to improve the mental health of children. More