Language Acquisition / Social Cognition

Language Acquisition Science: Understanding the mechanisms through which children learn language

How humans learn language is a problem still not fully understood in the field of human sciences. We conducted psychological experiments on children age 0 to 4 years old based on eye-gaze analysis, an used large-scale vertical/horizontal data analysis. Based on this, we conducted studies of (1) mechanisms of vocabulary spurts, (2) verb learning based on syntactic clues, (3) vocabulary development in Japanese-English bilingual, (4) the hiragana/katakana acquisition process, (5) mechanisms of language delay. Through this research, we propose tailor-made educational support technologies, which aid in language development.

Social Cognition: Identifying the emotional and social development process

Understanding one's own emotions and mental state, and those of others, is essential for interpersonal communication. It is also critical to social life that one acquire knowledge by reffering to the behavior of others, and use this to build interpersonal relationships. In order to clearly understand how children acquire these abilities, we used analysis of parent-child interaction and experimental psychology to research (1) social learning (natural and pedagogical), (2) understanding of facial expressions and emotional speech, (3) acquisition of emotional language, (4) development of prosociality, (5) understanding gossip, etc. With cooperation from nursery schools and kindergrtens, we are also developing and verifying emotional intelligence tests and methods of measuring interpersonal intimacy and quality of childcare.

Picture Book Project: Searching for and producing picture books that take into consideration the interests and development of children

It is widely known that storytelling with picture books aids in children's language development. In particular, it is important to read picture books that are suitable for children's interests and development. We are using an infant vocabulary development database that models words children learn to develop personalized educational picture books created according to the interests and developments of indvidual children, as well as the picture book search system "Pitarie". We are also conducting surveys to identify the benefits of storytelling with picture books.