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All human communities have, and use, language. Across these communities, children acquire their native language within the span of a few years. Research in our lab examines how the human mind makes these facts possible. We combine a variety of experimental methods to study the nature, growth, and use of language across different communities. We are specifically interested in the nature, acquisition, and processing of linguistic meaning and the way meaning interacts with context during human learning and communication. We also ask how language relates to other cognitive systems in both children and adults.

Our team conducts experiments in the lab, in local daycares and museums, and around the world, including sites in Greece, Germany, Turkey, Korea, China, and indigenous Mayan communities in Mexico. We recently expanded our research to include online studies with both children and adults. Our work has received funding from the National Institutes of Health and the National Science FoundationOur lab is part of the Department of Linguistics at the University of Pennsylvania and belongs to a vibrant, Cognitive Science campus community. We are members of several interdisciplinary Penn groups including MindCore (the Penn hub for the sciences of the mind), ILST (an initiative on Integrated Language Sciences and Technology), SCEW (the Social and Cultural Evolution Working group), SBSI (the Social and Behavioral Science Initiative), and the Penn Child Development Labs consortium.

If you would like to find out more or get involved, we’d love to hear from you.

Anna Papafragou

Professor of Linguistics

Director, Language & Cognition Lab

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