Title: Theory of Mind: a Linguistic Point of View

Jill de Villiers, PhD, graduated from Reading University, with a B.Sc. in Psychology, before completing her Ph.D. from Harvard University in Experimental Psychology in 1974. After five years on the faculty at Harvard, she took a professorship at Smith College where she is now the Sophia and Austin Smith Professor in Psychology and Philosophy.

Dr. de Villiers began as an experimentalist, designing procedures to test what children know in their first language. Her work became heavily influenced by contemporary linguistics and for thirty years her books and many articles cover empirical and theoretical research on the acquisition of grammar. In the last two decades she has done work on the role of language acquisition in the development of a child's theory of mind. Recently she has also been heavily involved in applied linguistics, as a co-author of several language assessments for children, both in the US and overseas in other languages. Her work has inspired two novels written under the pen-name of J.J. Amies.

Title: Lexical development as a Process of Symbol Grounding and System Construction

Mutsumi Imai, PhD, is a developmental psychologist studying lexical and conceptual development. She received her Ph.D degree from Northwestern University. MI’s greatest interest is to specify the processes and mechanisms through which children build up the system of lexical as well as non-lexical knowledge. Her unique contribution to the field is her cross-linguistic perspective in the investigation of lexical acquisition. She has examined how universal and specific language factors affect lexical development, and she has also investigated the effect in the other direction, that is, how language and culture affect thought. She has established that the relation between cognitive development and language learning consists of a bi-directional bootstrapping process (Imai, Kanero, & Masuda, 2015; Imai & Masuda, 2013). MI has also asked what cognitive function or knowledge enables children to anchor words to the world to start the bootstrapping process. In this vein, she has investigated how iconicity between word form and meaning plays a scaffolding role for children to anchor word forms onto object concepts first, and then to abstract relational concepts of verbs later (Imai & Kita, Nagumo & Okada, 2008). MI has proposed a sound symbolism bootstrapping hypothesis for language acquisition (Imai & Kita, 2014). This proposal has inspired hundreds of new research projects across a range of disciplines, including (but not limited to) language development, language evolution, embodied cognition and multi-modal cognition. MI has been designated a Fellow of the Cognitive Science Society as well as is a Governing Board member of that Society.  She is also a Fellow member of the Psychonomic Society and has served as Executive Board member of the International Association for the Study of Child Language (IASCL).

Title: Stability and change in developmental language disorder

Courtenay Norbury, PhD, is Professor of Developmental Disorders of Language and Communication at Psychology and Language Sciences, University College London. She is the Director of the Literacy, Language and Communication (LiLaC) Lab and a Fellow of the Royal College of Speech and Language Therapists. She obtained her PhD in Experimental Psychology at the University of Oxford, working with Professor Dorothy Bishop on the overlapping language profiles that characterise autism spectrum disorder and ‘specific’ language impairment. Professor Norbury’s current research focuses on language disorders and how language interacts with other aspects of development. She is leading SCALES, a population study of language development and disorder from school entry. She is also a founding member of the RADLD campaign (https://www.youtube.com/RADLD).

Title: Challenges in the assessment of children from diverse language and cultural backgrounds

Donna Jackson-Maldonado, PhD, grew up in Mexico in a bilingual-bicultural environment. She worked as a Speech-Language-Hearing pathologist for many years both in Mexico and the United States. She did her Doctorate in Hispanic Linguistics at the Colegio de México where she began to work in early language development in Spanish. She has worked as a researcher at the Mexican Secretariat of Education, the University of the Americas-Mexico, the University of California-San Diego and, currently at the Universidad Autónoma de Querétaro. Her areas of interest have been language development in monolingual and bilingual children with and without language disorders, including DLD, prematurity, Down Syndrome and Autism Spectrum Disorder. She also is involved in research of Mexican Sign Language. She specializes in language assessment and is one of the co-authors of the Spanish MacArthur-Bates Communicative Development Inventories. These parental report instruments have been used in several national nutrition programs in Mexico, Colombia, Guatemala, Peru, Ecuador and Argentina. She is currently developing a version for a Mexican original language, Otomí/Hñañhú. One of her great passions is working with horses in hippotherapy.

Donna has published her work both in English and in Spanish in journals and book chapters.

Title: Becoming expert at communicating the senses: from children to musicians and perfumers

Asifa Majid, PhD, is Professor of Language, Communication and Cultural Cognition at the University of York. She investigates the nature of thought both in language and outside of it by comparing diverse languages and cultures around the world. She adopts a large-scale cross-cultural approach in order to establish which aspects of categorisation are fundamentally shared, and which language-specific. Her work is interdisciplinary, combining standardized psychological methodology, in-depth linguistic studies, and ethnographically-informed description. This coordinated approach has been used to study domains such as space, event representation and more recently the language of perception. Majid has published more than 100 peer-reviewed articles and book chapters, and has been awarded various prizes for her work (eg, Ammodo KNAW Award, Radboud Science Award) and received a NWO VICI grant (€1.5million) to study olfactory language and cognition across cultures. She is an elected member of Academia Europaea for her contributions to linguistics, and elected Fellow of the Association for Psychological Science in recognition of her sustained outstanding contributions to psychology.

Title: Socioeconomic inequality and children's brain development

Kimberly Noble, MD, PhD, is an Associate Professor of Neuroscience and Education at Teachers College, Columbia University. As a neuroscientist and board-certified pediatrician, she directs the Neurocognition, Early Experience and Development (NEED) lab where she and her team study how socioeconomic inequality relates to in children's cognitive and brain development.  Her work examines socioeconomic disparities in cognitive development, as well as brain structure and function, across infancy, childhood and adolescence. She is particularly interested in understanding how early in infancy or toddlerhood such disparities develop; the modifiable environmental differences that account for these disparities; and the ways we might harness this research to inform the design of interventions. Along with a multidisciplinary team from around the country, with funding from NIH and a consortium of foundations, she is currently leading the first clinical trial of poverty reduction to assess the causal impact of income on children’s cognitive, emotional and brain development in the first three years of life. Dr. Noble received her undergraduate, graduate and medical degrees at the University of Pennsylvania, completed postdoctoral training at the Sackler Institute of Developmental Psychobiology of Weill Cornell Medical College, and completed her residency in pediatrics at Columbia University Medical Center / Morgan Stanley Children’s Hospital of New York - Presbyterian. She is a Fellow of the Association for Psychological Science, and was awarded the 2017 APS Janet Taylor Spence Award for Transformative Early Career Contributions. Her work linking family income to brain structure across childhood and adolescence has received worldwide attention in the popular press.

Title: Language Learning in Context: Contributions of Child, Caregiver, and Culture

Catherine S. Tamis-LeMonda is Professor of Developmental Psychology, in the Department of Applied Psychology at New York University, where she co-directs the Center for Research on Culture, Development, and Education. She is a Fellow of the American Psychological Society; member of the governing council of the Society for Research on Child Development; and President-Elect of the International Congress of Infant Studies. Tamis-LeMonda’s research focuses on infant and child language, communication, object play, and literacy development, and the roles of language input, home experiences, parenting, and culture in infant learning and development across domains. Tamis-LeMonda’s research has been funded by the National Science Foundation, National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, National Institute of Mental Health, Administration for Children, Youth and Families, the Ford Foundation, and the Robinhood Foundation. She has over 200 publications in peer-reviewed journals and books, and co-edited the volumes Child Psychology: A Handbook of Contemporary Issues, 1st 2nd 3rd Editions (Psychology Press, 1999, 2006, 2016), Handbook of Father Involvement: Multidisciplinary Perspectives, (Psychology Press, 2002; 2013), The Development of Social Cognition and Communication (Psychology Press, 2005), and the forthcoming Handbook of Infant Development (Cambridge University Press).