The Foundation in Memory of Marcus and Amalia Wallenberg has assigned 4 087 000 SEK for the four-year project “The impact of vocal emotion on early word learning: Behavioural and neural responses to parental infant-directed speech in Swedish and Australian English“ to the researchers Iris-Corinna Schwarz, Dept. of Linguistics, Stockholm University, together with the Australian researchers Christa Lam-Cassettari and Christine Kitamura, MARCS Institute at the University of Western Sydney.

This is the only grant within Humanities donated to Stockholm University out of the Foundation’s 2013 spring call.

Project summary:

The impact of vocal emotion on early word learning: Behavioural and neural responses to parental infant-directed speech in Swedish and Australian English

The project investigates how vocal emotion in the infant-directed speech of Swedish and Australian English speaking parents contributes to early word learning. It is known that vocal emotion scaffolds general learning mechanisms, and engages and sustains infant attention, but largely unknown is its effect on word learning and language development.  As the first to systematically investigate the relationship between vocal emotion in parents’ infant-directed speech and early word learning, this project has the potential to revolutionise our current understanding of human language development generally, in addition to the broad implications for enhancing the outcomes of  at-risk children such as those with hearing impairment or a mother with post-natal depression.

The project is outlined as collaborative research for four years between the researcher Iris-Corinna Schwarz, Dept. of Linguistics at Stockholm University, and the Australian researchers Christa Lam-Cassettari and Christine Kitamura, MARCS Institute at the University of Western Sydney, starting in July 2014.