Cogtales is a blog by young female cognitive scientists, a perspective that we find underrepresented in the universe of science blogs. For us, Cogtales is like a virtual version of our favorite female colleague who stops by for a coffee and chat about recent data analysis struggles, a fascinating new article, or a sexist remark by a senior researcher.
We created Cogtales as something we would want to read ourselves, and that hopefully other scientists, female, male, young, senior, find interesting to scroll through.
Cognitive science to me is an exciting mix of “hard” brain science (including many things neuro-) and humanities. I study one thing that we often claim makes us human, language, and how we learn it during the earliest months of life. So, when I sit back and think or talk about it, my research theme ultimately has a philosophical dimension, although in every day science I usually mostly deal with coding, experimental design, data analysis, and trying to keep infant participants happy.
My core research project aims to evaluate current theories of how we acquire language by testing them against an implicit prediction they make on the role input variability plays in daily life (here’s the project website with links to more information). In addition, I wonder how the way we test babies’ abilities relates to the inferences we make concerning their underlying abilities, and about being a good researcher.
Aspects of academia that don’t typically come to mind when thinking about science and being a scientist also play a big role, because those factors are not usually discussed. So expect some posts about work hours, sexism, differences in how labs and education work across countries, and about moving around a lot for science. And more…
I study some specific ways in which babies’ social and linguistic environments influence their language acquisition. In my current research on the role of social cues on language acquisition, I wonder how and why exactly various social cues such as direct eye gaze and pointing support learning – because they are social or because they direct attention, or both?
I often find myself reflecting on how to connect the experiments I conduct with the bigger picture I’m passionate about, and if and how my research in general can contribute something meaningful to society. The latter is one reason I am, as Christina, very committed to recent developments in improving our research practices.