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Makeba P. Wilbourn, Assistant Professor of Psychology and Neuroscience and Affiliate of the Center for Biobehavioral Health Disparities Research and Affiliate of Center for Child and Family Policy

Makeba P. Wilbourn

Research Summary:
My program of research explores how the relationship between cognition and language changes over time and the types of input (e.g., gestures, bilingualism) that influence this relationship. In general, my research addresses three key theoretical questions. First, how does cognition influence language early in development? In particular, I am interested in how infants and toddlers’ developing cognitive and perceptual skills lay the foundation for early word learning and how this changes as a function of input and experience. Secondly, how does language come to influence cognition in children and adults? In this line of research, I am interested in determining how various types of linguistic and cultural experiences affect the cognitive abilities of monolinguals and bilinguals throughout development. Finally, how does the use of gesture influence the relationship between cognition and language? This area of research focuses on the relationship between early gesture use and later language development and how this relationship is influenced by socio-cultural factors, such as race and socioeconomic status.


Developmental Psychology
Cognition and Cognitive Neuroscience

Representative Publications:   (More Publications)   (search)

  1. MP Wilbourn and M Casasola (Submitted, invited revision under review). Hand me a cue: Developmental changes in infants’ associative word learning abilities. Developmental Psychology.
  2. V Kalia, MP Wilbourn and K Ghio (Submitted, under review). Age of second language acquisition and language proficiency interactively influence bilinguals’ cognition. Bilingualism: Cognition & Language.
  3. SS Robertson, SE Watamura and MP Wilbourn (2012). Attentional dynamics of infant visual foraging. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, 109(28), 11460-11464. [doi]  [abs]
  4. MP Wilbourn and JP Sims (2013). Get by with a little help from a word: Multimodal input facilitates 26-month-olds' ability to learn symbolic gestures as labels. Journal of Cognition and Development, 14(2), 250-269.
  5. MP Wilbourn, LE Kurtz and V Kalia (2012). The Lexical Stroop Sort (LSS) picture-word task: a computerized task for assessing the relationship between language and executive functioning in school-aged children.. Behav Res Methods, 44(1), 270-286. [21853409], [doi]  [abs]
  6. MP Wilbourn, AW Gottfried and DW Kee (2011). Consistency of hand-preference across the early years: long-term relationship to verbal intelligence and reading achievement in girls.. Dev Psychol, 47(4), 931-942. [21574699], [doi]  [abs]
  7. MP Wilbourn and M Casasola (2007). Discriminating signs: Perceptual precursors to acquiring a visual-gestural language. Infant Behavior and Development, 30(1), 153-160. [doi]  [abs]
  8. M Casasola, MP Wilbourn and S Yang (2006). Can English-learning toddlers acquire and generalize a novel spatial word?. First Language, 26(2), 187-205. [doi]  [abs]
  9. M Casasola and MP Wilbourn (2004). Fourteen-month-old infants form novel word-spatial relation associations. Infancy, 6(3), 385-396.  [abs]
  10. Gottfried, A.W., Gottfried, A.E., Bathurst, K., Guerin, D.W., & Parramore, M.(2003). "Socioeconomic status in children’s development and family environment: Infancy through adolescence. In M. Bornstein & R. Bradley (Eds.)." Socioeconomic status, parenting, and child development. Mahway, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum.
  11. Hersberger, S., Marcoulides, G., & Parramore, M. (2002). "Introduction to structural equation modeling techniques. In Pugesek, B., Tomer, A., von Eye, A. (Eds.)." Structural equation modeling: Applications in ecological and evolutionary research. Cambridge, MA: Cambridge University Press.

Lab Personnel: 
Miray Seward -

Typical Courses Taught::

  • Psy 103re, Developmental psychology
  • Psy 164s, Role race/ culture on devl Synopsis
  • Psy 103, Practicum Synopsis
  • Psy 193, Research independent study Synopsis

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