Project Details


This project investigates one of our most fundamental cognitive abilities: our capacity to use numbers. Given the pivotal role that numbers play in our lives, understanding how children acquire numerical concepts and how they learn to express these concepts through the medium of language represents an important goal for disciplines engaged in the study of human cognition. This project brings together three independent lines of research on expressions containing number words, e.g. two balloons, three dogs. The first stems from work in Linguistics and proposes to account for the meaning and formal properties of such expressions. The second comes from the study of language development: when and how do children acquire the number vocabulary? The third comes from the study of atypical development: in addition to their problems with language, do children with Specific Language Impairment also experience difficulty in the area of numerical cognition? The goal of this project is to bring these perspectives together and show that when integrated, these approaches can both constrain and enrich each other in ways that will further advance our understanding of the acquisition of language and number. By focusing on the behavior of expressions containing number words, this project will shed some light on issues of much broader theoretical and practical interest. First, two special populations - typically and atypically developing children - will be used to illuminate core theoretical issues in the domain of language and number. The inclusion of children with Specific Language Impairment is of particular importance, as this research will promote awareness of this developmental disorder and underscore the fact that the study of typical and atypical development must proceed hand in hand, with each area informing the other. Second, there is an important practical goal from a clinical perspective. Gaining insight into the nature of a possible deficit in the area of numerical cognition will provide a principled basis for future research on the development of treatment programs for the Specific Language Impairment population. Finally, the interdisciplinary approach advocated here will foster intellectual connections among researchers in the fields of Linguistics, developmental Psychology, Cognitive Science, and Speech & Language pathology.
Effective start/end date9/1/075/31/11


  • National Science Foundation (National Science Foundation (NSF))


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