In the MACAW Lab (Methods of Acquiring Concepts And Words) at MUSC, we are interested in how young children develop their vocabularies and broader language skills. We are particularly interested in whether there are differences in this process between typically developing toddlers and toddlers who are at increased risk for language disorder (such as those who are late talkers or those on the autism spectrum).

Much of our research focuses on toddlers’ verb vocabularies because of the foundational role that verbs play in later language development. We ask:

1) What types of verbs do toddlers know, and are their individual factors (e.g., target language, risk status for language disorder) that impact the composition of toddlers’ early verb vocabularies?
2) Do children with or at risk for language disorder use the same cues for verb-learning as their typically developing peers?
3) How are verbs integrated into children’s larger vocabularies, and are there differences between typically developing children and those with or at risk for language disorder?
4) What are the best methods for assessing children’s receptive verb vocabularies? Are they also efficacious for children with developmental delays and disorders?

The MACAW lab is currently supported by an NIDCD R21 research grant (DC020785-01: “Identification of Differences in Verb Learning between Late Talkers and Typically Developing Children”) and an ASHFoundation New Century Scholars research grant (“Syntactic Bootstrapping in Late Talkers”), both awarded to Dr. Sabrina Horvath. If you are interested in learning more about our research or would like to participate, please contact us at: .

Keep checking back for updates on the MACAW lab!

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