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Makeba P Wilbourn, Assistant Professor

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. Robertson, S.R., Watamura, S.E., & Wilbourn, M.P (2012). Attentional dynamics of infant visual foraging. Proceedings of the National Academy of Science, 109, 11460–11464.
  2. Wilbourn, M.P. & Sims, J.P (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.
  3. Wilbourn, M.P., Kurtz, L.E., & Kalia, V (2011). The Lexical Stroop Sort (LSS) task: A computerized task exploring the relationship between language and executive functioning in school-aged children. Behavior Research Methods.
  4. Wilbourn, M.P., Gottfried, A.W., & Kee, D.W (2011). Consistency of hand preference during the early years: Long-term relationship to verbal intelligence and reading achievement in females. Developmental Psychology, 47, 931-942.
  5. Wilbourn, M.P., & Casasola, M (2007). Discriminating signs: Perceptual precursors to the acquisition of a visual-gestural language. Infant Behavior and Development, 30, 153-160.
  6. Casasola, M., Wilbourn, M.P., & Yang, S (2006). Can English-learning toddlers acquire and generalize a novel spatial word?. First Language, 26, 187-205.
  7. Casasola, M., & Wilbourn, M.P (2004). Fourteen-month-old infants form novel word-spatial relation associations. Infancy, 6, 385-396.
  8. 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.
  9. 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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