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.

Ongoing Collaborations

ASSISTING INTERACTIVE COMMUNICATION BETWEEN HEARING PARENTS AND DEAF CHILDREN

90% of Deaf and Hard of Hearing (DHH) children are born to hearing parents. This leaves the majority of DHH children in households without fully accessible linguistic communication for many years, creating a serious risk of language deprivation. Kinder Lab collaborates with Dr. Zhen Bai (Computer Science, University of Rochester) and Dr. Wyatte Hall (University of Rochester, Medical Center) to develop an augmenting of reality system that helps hearing parents learn American Sign Language while engaging with interactive play with their DHH children.

LARGE-SCALE, WEB-BASED, ASSESSMENTS OF RECEPTIVE PROSODY IN AUTISM

Intonation, rhythm, and timing of speech communicate what we think and feel. Children and adults with autism spectrum disorder (ASD), however, often experience difficulty understanding these features of speech — prosody — in language comprehension. Together with Dr. Loisa Bennetto (Psychology, University of Rochester) and Dr. Paul Allen (University of Rochester, Medical Center), we conduct large-scale assessments of adolescents with and without ASD to gain insight into cognitive and perceptual sources of the difficulty.

 

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

Chigusa Kuramada profile

Chigusa Kurumada

Assistant Professor (PI) [CV Dec 2020]

Xie Xie profile

XIN XIE

Postdoctoral Fellow

Andres Buxo-Lugo profile

Andrés Buxó-Lugo

Collaborator (University of Maryland)

Wyatte Hall profile

WYATTE HALL

Collaborator (University of Rochester, Medical Center)

Zhen Bai profile

ZHEN BAI

Collaborator (Computer Science)

Loisa Bennetto profile

LOISA BENNETTO

Collaborator (Psychology)

Paul Allen profile

PAUL ALLEN

Collaborator (University of Rochester, Medical Center)

 

Lab Alum

  • Sarah Bibyk (Graduate student)
  • Amanda Pogue (Graduate student)
  • Maryam Seifeldin (Graduate student)
  • Olga Nikolayeva (Lab coodinator)
  • Jennifer Andrews (Lab coordinator)
  • Valerie Langlois (Independent Study RA, Class '16)
  • Eugene Rohrer (Undergraduate RA, Class '16)
  • Wesley Orth (Independent Study RA, Class '17)
  • Stephen Powell (Independent Study RA, Class '17)
  • Joseph Plvan-Franke (Independent Study RA, Class'17)
  • Katie Ward (Undergraduate RA, Class'17)
  • Sarah Davis (Undergraduate RA, Class'17)
  • Rocco Porcellio (Undergraduate RA, Class'17)
  • Natalie Fuentes (Undergraduate RA, Class'17)
  • Sahed Martinez (Undergraduate RA, Class'17)
  • Rachel Myers (Independent Study RA, Class'18)
  • Madeline Clark (Independent Study RA, Class'18)
  • Crystal Lee (Independent Study RA, Class'18)
  • Bethany Gardner (Independent Study RA, Class'18)
  • Hayley Orciuch (Undergraduate RA, Class'18)
  • Jilli Walch (Undergraduate RA, Class'18)
  • Julie Seok (Undergraduate RA, Class'18)

 

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

Conferences

Conference posters the Kinder Lab has presented can be found below.

Kurumada, C., Xie, X. & Buxó-Lugo., A. (2021). An Ideal-observer approach to structured talker variability in prosodic productions. The annual conference of the German Linguistic Society (Deutsche Gesellschaft für Sprachwissenschaft, DGfS).

Kurumada, C. Buxó-Lugo., A. (2020). Prosodic adaptation is talker-sensitive but not talker-specific. The 33rd CUNY conference of sentence processing, Amherst, MA. [March 2020 Powerpoint]

Buxó-Lugo, A. & Kurumada, C. (2019). That was a question?: Accommodating variability in intonation interpretation. Paper presented at the 32nd CUNY conference on sentence processing, Universtiy of Colorado, Boulder. [March 2019 Powerpoint]

Kurumada, C. (2019). Ambiguity all the way down: Inferring intentions from the acoustic signal. An invited talk at the workshop on Dynamics of Ambiguity, University of Tübingen, Germany, February 24th. [March 2019 Powerpoint]

Gardner, B., & Kurumada, C. (2019). Variation in the rational interpretation of slights: Gender-based microaggressions . Poster presented at the 32nd CUNY conference on sentence processing, Universtiy of Colorado, Boulder. [pdf]

Gardner, B., & Kurumada, C. (2019). You're good at math for a woman: An experimental analysis of gender-based microaggressions. Poster presented at the annual meeting of the Linguistics Society of America. New York City.

Kurumada, C. & Andrés Buxó-Lugo (2018). Variability and inferences in pragmatic interpretation of speech prosody. An invited talk at a symposium at the 59th Annual Meeting of the Psychonomics Society: What Speech Prosody Can Tell Us About Cognition, November 17th.

Buxó-Lugo, A. & Kurumada, C. (2018). Navigating variability in question-statement prosody. Poster presented at the 59th meeting of Psychonomics Society, New Orleans.

Buxó-Lugo, A., Nourani, S. & Kurumada, C. (2018). Accommodating variations in pragmatic interpretations of intonation contours. Poster presented at the 4th meeting of Experimental and Theoretical Advances in Prosody (ETAP4), University of Massachusetts, Amherst.

Pogue, A., Brown-Schmidt, S., & Kurumada, C. (2018). Integrating socially situated non-linguistic cues in pragmatic generalization. Pre-AMLaP workshop on Socially situated language processing, ZAS Berlin, September 5th.

Andino, A., Andrews, J., & Kurumada, C. (2018). The effect of foreign accent on children's learning of new knowledge. Poster presented at the 32nd Annual National Conference on Undergraduate Research. Edmond, OK. [April 2018 Powerpoint]

Gardner, B., Clark, M., Pogue, A., & Kurumada, C. (2018). Real-time pragmatic processing with a novel lexicon. Poster presented at the 32nd Annual National Conference on Undergraduate Research. Edmond, OK. [April 2018 Powerpoint]

Gardner, B., Pogue, A., & Kurumada, C. (2018). Real-time pragmatic processing with a novel lexicon. Poster presented at the 31st Annual CUNY Conference on Human Sentence Processing. Davis, CA. [March 2018 Powerpoint]

Lee, C., & Kurumada, C. (2018). Learning absolute adjective meanings through non-absolute exemplars. Poster presented at the 31st Annual CUNY Conference on Human Sentence Processing. Davis, CA. [March 2018 Powerpoint]

Dix, S., Lawrence, R., Morgan, C., & Kurumada, C. (2018). Integration of bottom-up and top-down information in on-line interpretations of scalar adjectives. Presentation given at the 92nd Annual Meeting of the Linguistic Society. Salt Lake City, UT. [January 2018 Powerpoint]

Lee, C., & Kurumada, C. (2017). Contextual inferences through variable exemplars: An artificial adjective learning study. Presentation given at the 42nd Boston University Conference on Language Development. Boston, MA. [November 2017 Powerpoint]

Kurumada, C., & Grimm, S. (2017). Roles of meaning predictability in language production and learning. Presentation given at Yale Meaning in Flux Workshop. New Haven, CT. [October 2017 Powerpoint]

Lee, C., & Kurumada, C. (2017). Roles of prototypes vs. situation-based inferences in the learning of absolute gradable adjectives. Presentation given at Yale Meaning in Flux Workshop. New Haven, CT. [October 2017 Powerpoint]

Pogue, A., & Tanenhaus, M.K. (2017). Exploring how speakers mark, and listeners assess, certainty. Poster presented at 7th Biannual Experimental Pragmatics Conference. Cologne, Germany. [June 2017 Poster]

Buxo-Lugo, A., Kurumada, C. & Watson, D. (2017). Adaptation and learning in prosodic phrasing of syntactically ambigious sentences. Poster presented at the 30th Annual CUNY Conference on Human Sentence Processing. Boston, MA.

Kurumada, C., Plvan-Franke, J., Orth, W., & Grimm, S. (2017). Communicative efficiency in language production and evolution: optional plural marking. Poster presented at the 30th Annual CUNY Conference on Human Sentence Processing. Boston, MA. [April 2017 Poster]

Orth, W., Pogue, A., & Kurumada, C. (2017). The role of context and information in the interpretation of scalar adjectives. Poster presented at the 30th Annual CUNY Conference on Human Sentence Processing. Boston, MA. [April 2017 Poster]

Pogue, A., Brown-Schmidt, S., & Kurumada, C. (2017). Casual attributions in the adaptation of pragmatic informativity assumptions. Poster presented at the 30th Annual CUNY Conference on Human Sentence Processing. Boston, MA.[April 2017 Poster]

Orth, W., Pogue, A., & Kurumada, C. (2017). Contextual factors in child adjective interpretation. Poster presented at the 31st Annual National Conference on Undergraduate Research. Memphis, TN.

Pogue, A., Kurumada, C., & Tanenhaus, M.K. (2017). Preschoolers pragmatic generalization based on scalar adjective use. Poster presented at the CSLI Workshop: Bridging Computational and Psycholinguistic Approaches to the Study of Meaning. Stanford, CA.

Pogue, A., Brown-Schmidt, S., & Kurumada, C. (2017). The role of causal attribution in the generalization of pragmatic informativity assumptions. Poster presented at the CSLI workshop: Bridging Computational and Psycholinguistic Approaches to the Study of Meaning. Stanford, CA.

Ryskin, R., Kurumada, C., & Brown-Schmidt, S. (2016). Information integration in online modulation of pragmatic inferences during language comprehension. Poster presented at the 57th Meeting of Psychonomic Society. Boston, MA.

Gardner, B., Sullivan, A., Trine, T., Jaeger, T.F., & Kurumada, C. (2016). Rapid adaptation of online pragmatic inferences on scalar adjectives. Poster presented at the 22nd Annual AMLaP Conference, Architectures and Mechanisms for Language Processing. Bilbao, Spain.

Ryskin, R., Kurumada, C., & Brown-Schmidt, S. (2016). Bottom-up adaptation of online pragmatic inferences to variability of speakers. Presentation given at the 29th Annual CUNY Conference on Human Sentence Processing. Gainesville, Florida.

Pogue, A., Kurumada, C., & Tanenhaus, M.K. (2015). Speaker-based generalization of quantity implicature in preschoolers. Presentation given at the 40th Annual Boston University Conference on Language Development. Boston, MA.

Pogue, A., Kurumada, C., & Tanenhaus, M.K. (2015). Speaker-specific generalization of pragmatic inferences based on prenominal adjectives. Presentation given at the 37th Annual Conference of the Cognitive Science Society. Pasadena, CA.

Pogue, A., Kurumada, C., & Tanenhaus, M.K. (2015).Speaker-specific pragmatic generalizations based on under- vs. over-informative utterances. Presentation given at Experimental Pragmatics 2015. Chicago, IL. [July 2015 Abstract]

Pogue, A., Kurumada, C., & Tanenhaus, M.K. (2015). Exploring expectations based on speaker-specific variation in informativity. Presentation given at Formal and experimental pragmatics: methodological issues of a nascent liaison. Berlin, Germany. [June 2015 Abstract]

Ryskin, R., Kurumada, C., & Brown-Schmidt, S. (2015). Adaptation of pragmatic inferences transfers across contrastive domains. Poster presented at the 28th Annual CUNY Conference on Human Sentence Processing. Los Angeles, CA.

Kurumada, C., Brown, M., Bibyk, S., Pontillo, D., & Tanenhaus, M.K. (2014). Expectation-adaptation in incremental interpretation of contrastive prosody. Presentati given at the 27th Annual CUNY Conference on Human Sentence Processing. Columbus, OH.

Publications

Publications conducted via the Kinder Lab can be found below.

Buxó-Lugo., A., Xie, X., & Kurumada, C. (in progress). Prosodic adaptation is talker sensitive but not talker-specific [OSF]

Xie, X., Kurumada, C., & Jaeger, T. F. (in progress). What does speech data tell us about when listeners should expect talker-specific statistics to vary?

Buxó-Lugo, A., & Kurumada, C., (under review). What changes when we tune into talker-specific prosody? [OSF]

Kurumada, C., & Roettger, T. B. (under review). Thinking probabilistically in the study of intonational speech prosody. [OSF]

Gardner, B., Dix, S., Lawrence, R., Morgan, C., Sullivan, A., & Kurumada, C. (2021). Rapid integration of top-down and bottom-up information in online interpretation of scalar adjectives. PLOS One. doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0245130 [OSF]

Xie, X., Buxó-Lugo., A., & Kurumada, C. (2021). Encoding and decoding of meaning through structured variability in intonational speech prosody. Cognition. doi: 10.1016/j.cognition.2021.104619. [OSF]

Lee, C., & Kurumada. C. (2020). Learning maximum absolute meanings from variable exemplars. Language Learning. https://doi.org/10.1111/lang.12439.

Ryskin, R., Kurumada, C., & Brown-Schmidt, S. (2020). Information integration in online modulation of pragmatic inferences during language comprehension. Cognitive Science, 43 (8). e12769. https://doi.org/10.1111/cogs.12769.

Kurumada, C., & Grimm, S. (2019). Meaning predictability in grammatical encoding: Optional plural marking. Cognition, 191. 103953. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.cognition.2019.04.022

Rohde, H. & Kurumada, C., (2018). Alternatives and inferences in the communication of meaning. In Federmeier, C. & Watson, D. G., Current Topics in Language, 68 (pp.215-252). Academic Press. [pdf]

Singhal, A., Ali, M. R., Baten, R. A., Kurumada, C., Marvin, E. W., & Hoque, M. E. (2018). Analyzing the impact of gender on the automation of feedback for public speaking. Paper presented at The 8th Int. Workshop on Human Behavior Understanding (HBU). Xi'an, China.[pdf]

Kurumada C., & Grimm, S. (2017). Communicative efficiency in language production and learning: Optional plural marking. Gunzelmann, G., Howes, A., Tenbrink, T., & Davelaar, E. (Eds.). Proceedings of the 39th Annual Meeting of the Cognitive Science Society (pp.2500-2505). [pdf]

Kurumada, C., & Brown, M., & Tanenhaus, M. K. (2017). Effects of distributional information on categorizations of prosodic contours. Psychonomic Bulletin & Review. doi: 10.3758/s13423-017-1332-6. [pdf]

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
585-273-4764
email: rockinderlab@gmail.com