About us

language learning and processing in kids and adults

We use words to communicate. What we communicate, however, goes beyond what words can mean. Research in the Rochester Kinder (k/i/nder as in “kindergarten”) Lab focuses on how we express and understand intentions, emotions, and other socially meaningful information in our everyday linguistic interactions.

Our questions include:
  • How do we process rhythmic and melodic aspects of language to understand the speaker’s intentions and emotions?
  • When do we say “the big dog” rather than just “the dog”? How do we make our referring expressions both informative and concise? What happens when you don’t?
  • What do we know about different dialects and accents? Does our social background and knowledge affect how we process language?


Current research in the lab

Prosody and Pragmatics

What makes you sound happy or sad? How can you tell if somebody is joking or not? We study how children and adults use the melody and rhythm of speech to communicate emotions and intentions.

Learning about speaker differences

Every person is unique in the way that they talk, they use different phrases, and style (e.g., some speakers are more sarcastic than others). Do we track these kinds of differences between speakers, and can we use this information to make predictions about what a speaker is likely going to say in the future?

Learning about adjectives

We use adjectives often in every day life, and they are incredibly helpful in communication. For example, asking a friend to help you find a red key, the word red is helpful if the area you are searching contains mostly silver or gray objects, but less helpful if you are searching through a pile of red objects.

Social meanings in communication

The way we use language communicates who we are. We are interested in how children and adults extract socially meaningful information such as age, gender, and community membership of the speaker from the linguistic signal and use it to navigate communication.


How your participation helps us

Our goal is to understand how young children's communicative skills develop over time. By having your child participate in a Kinderlab study you are:

  • Helping add to a greater body of knowledge and further language research
  • Contributing to the understanding of how typically developing children understand different aspects of language
From your participation we can move towards using this information to answer questions on how children with certain disorders understand certain aspects of language. Our current experiments focus on mapping out typically developing children's language development, but we plan to expand our research to include bilingual children as well as children with conditions such as Autism Spectrum Disorder.

We make our experiments intellectually stimulating, encouraging children to think about how we can all speak and understand language. After participating we provide newsletters that describe the study and results as well as where our research has been published and reported. We encourage parents to ask questions about our research and we are more than happy to discuss what we have learned!


People in the Lab


Chigusa Kurumada

Assistant Professor (PI)


Amanda Pogue

4th year grad student


Maryam Seifeldin

3rd year grad student


Jenn Andrews

Lab Manager


Stephen Powell

Independent Study Student


Wesley Orth

Independent Study Student


Crystal Lee

Independent Study Student


Ashley Andino

Independent Study Student


Katie Ward

Undergraduate Research Assistant


Phyllis Imade

Undergraduate Research Assistant

Sarah D

Sarah Davis

Undergraduate Research Assistant


Joseph Plvan-Franke

Undergraduate Research Assistant


Sahed Martinez

Undergraduate Research Assistant


Rachel Myers

Undergraduate Research Assistant


Madeline Clark

Undergraduate Research Assistant


Jilli Walch

Undergraduate Research Assistant


Lab Alum


Sarah Bibyk

6th year grad student


Valerie Langlois

Undergraduate RA, Class '16


Eugene Rohrer

Undergraduate RA, Class '16


Olga Nikolayeva

Lab Manager, 2014-2016


Rocco Porcellio

Undergraduate Research Assistant


Natalie Fuentes

Undergraduate Research Assistant


Andrea Johnson

Undergraduate Research Assistant


Perry Demarche

Undergraduate Research Assistant


Marisela Lara

Undergraduate Research Assistant


Join the Lab

If you are interested in joining the lab as an undergraduate research assistant, summer student or independent study student, send us an email for possible opportunities. If you are interested in persuing graduate opportunities with Dr. Kurumada please send her an email.


  • Email the lab for RA opportunities

  • Email Dr. Kurumada for grad student information



Publications conducted via the Kinder Lab can be found below.

Kurumada, C., & Grimm, S. (submitted). Communicative efficiency in language production and learning: Optional plural marking.[ submitted manuscript]

Kurumada, C., & Brown, M., & Tanenhaus, M. K. (under review). Effects of distributional information on categorizations of prosodic contours.

Ryskin, R., Kurumada, C., & Brown-Schmidt, S (under review). Information integration in online modulation of pragmatic inferences during language comprehension.[manuscript under review]

Weatherholtz, K., Seifeldin, M., Kleinschmidt, D. F., Kurumada, C., & Jaeger, T. F. (submitted). Speech perception as probabilistic inference under uncertainty based on social-indexical knowledge. [submitted manuscript]

Kurumada, C., & Brown, M., & Tanenhaus, M. K. (under review). Probabilistic inferences and adaptation in pragmatic interpretation of contrastive prosody.

Kurumada, C., & Clark, E. V. (2016). Pragmatic inferences in context: Learning to interpret contrastive prosody. Journal of Child Languge, available on CJO2016. doi:10.1017/S0305000916000246. [pdf]

Pogue, A., Kurumada, C., & Tanenhaus, M.K. (2016). Talker-specific generalization of pragmatic inferences based on under- and over-informative prenominal adjective use. Frontiers in Psychology, 6:2035. [pdf]

Kurumada C., & Jaeger, T.F. (2015). Communicative efficiency in language production: Optional case-marking in Japanese. Journal of Memory and Language, 83, 152-178. [pdf]

Pogue, A., Kurumada C., & Tanenhaus, M.K. (2015). Speaker-specific generalization of pragmatic inferences based on prenominal adjectives. Proceedings of the 38th Annual Meeting of the Cognitive Science Society. [pdf]

Kurumada, C., & Arnon, I. (2014). Language acquisition in interaction: Introduction. Arnon, I., Casillas, M., Kurumada, C., & Estigarribia, B. (Eds). Language in interaction: Studies in honor of Eve Clark. Trends in Language Acquisition Research. Amsterdam: John Benjamins. pp.1-10. [pdf]

Kurumada, C., Brown, M., Bibyk, S., Pontillo, D., & Tanenhaus, M. K. (2014). Is it or isn’t it: Listeners make rapid use of prosody to infer speaker meanings. Cognition, 133, 335-342. [pdf]

Kurumada, C., Brown, S., Bibyk, S., Pontillo, D., & Tanenhaus,M.K. (2014). Rapid adaptation in online pragmatic interpretation of contrastive prosody. Proceedings of the 37th Annual Meeting of the Cognitive Science Society. [pdf]

Kurumada, C. (2013). Contextual inferences over speakers’ pragmatic intentions: Preschoolers’ comprehension of contrastive prosody. Proceedings of the 36th Annual Meeting of the Cognitive Science Society. [pdf]

Kurumada, C., Brown, M., & Tanenhaus, M. K. (2013). Comprehension and acquisition of contrastive prosody:Rational inference helps adults and children cope with noisy input. The 26th CUNY conference of sentence processing, South Carolina, March 21st. [presentation slides]

Kurumada, C., Brown, M., & Tanenhaus, M. K. (2012). Pragmatic interpretation of speech: It looks like speech adaptation. The proceedings of the 35th annual meeting of the Cognitive Science Society, Sapporo, Japan, August. [pdf]


Sign up to participate

Please fill out the following form and we will get in touch when we have a study available for your family.

Get in touch

University of Rochester Kinder Lab
423 Meliora Hall
Rochester, NY 14627
email: rockinderlab@gmail.com