Loyola University Chicago

Children's Language, Memory & Cognition

Children's Language, Memory & Cognition

top image

The Lab in Language, Memory and Cognition is a multi-faceted research program directed by Denise Davidson, Ph.D., Associate Professor of Psychology.

Dr. Davidson’s research interests lie in cognitive and social-cognitive development in preschool and school-age children.  Her research publications have focused on several areas of child development, including second language acquisition in young children, emotional development, and development and use of stereotypes in children.  Current projects have examined bilingual children’s use of word-learning strategies, including such strategies as the shape bias and mutual exclusivity.  The development of phonological and syntactic skills in monolingual and bilingual children are currently being explored, particularly as they relate to reading abilities. Dr. Davidson and her research team have worked with many bilingual children, including those that speak Spanish, Urdu or Greek (along with English, of course).  Another current research interest involves a project with the “Sit, Stay and Read” program, a city-wide program geared toward Chicago school children.  In this program, children read aloud to friendly, well-trained dogs in an attempt to improve their reading ability.  Currently, Dr. Davidson and her research team are tracking changes in these abilities across three years (third through fifth grade).

An additional area of interest is memory development and what makes an item memorable.  Recent research in her lab has explored the role of emotion in children’s (and adults’) processing and memory of information.  She has found that what makes an item memorable, such as its connections to emotion, operate in very young children as well as older adults.  Her students have also explored young children’s understanding of emotion, particularly those emotions that appear to develop later in childhood, such as self-conscious emotions (e.g., pride, embarrassment).  Other emotion projects have included (1) whether children attend to an emotion bias when learning new words; (2) autistic children’s recognition and understanding of emotion as it is displayed at different intensities and in different contexts; and (3) whether gender and racial in-group biases in emotion recognition exist among children.  A third area of interest is the cognitive processing of stereotyped information, including how children from different racial groups view themselves and others, and how children in the U.S. and other countries, such as China, view older adults.   

The Lab provides research opportunities for students at both the graduate and undergraduate levels. Undergraduates interested in working in the laboratory as a volunteer, or for course credit (PSYC 369, 370 - Honor's Readings & Research, PSYC 397, 399 - Special Studies in Psychology, Independent Research), should go to the Student ResourcesStudent Resources page.  You may also want to read about our Research and then contact Dr. Davidson, ddavids@luc.edu, for more information.