Taking a cross-cultural and cross-linguistic approach, my research program focuses on understanding how young children’s interaction with the social world shapes their learning and development. I am particularly interested in how children acquire their native language and culturally adaptive cognitive skills through social interactions, especially interactions with their caregivers.


My current research focuses on three central themes. First, my research investigates how caregivers’ cultural beliefs and goals shape the ways in which they communicate with their children. Second, I study how parental input influences children’s language development throughout early childhood, including their vocabulary knowledge, narrative skills, and lexical and syntactic processing efficiency. The third theme is how parental input shapes children’s information-seeking behaviors, such as infants’ use of pointing gestures and preschoolers’ use of questions.

Picking Fruit
Baby Girl with Soother
Mother and Baby on Floor


Decontextualized Language in Caregiver-Child Interactions:

Cultural Patterns and Developmental Implications

Decontextualized language refers to language that is abstract or removed from the here and now (e.g., causal explanations or recalling past events). Combining observational and experimental methods, this project explores concurrent and longitudinal associations between Chinese caregivers’ use of decontextualized language and children’s oral language and cognitive skills.

What is the Baby Saying?

Adults' Interpretation of Infants' Pointing Gestures

Infants' early gestures provide a window into understanding their emerging communicative skills. Infant may use pointing gestures to express various communicative intents, such as declarative, informative, requestive, and interrogative intents. This project examines how adults interpret infants’ pointing gestures and whether their responses drive their responses to infants' pointing gestures.

Parents' Use of Generic Language with Infants:

Stability, Variability, and Developmental Implications

Adults’ use of generics contributes to children’s learning about categories and their properties. This project investigates whether and how generics children hear in everyday interactions aid their learning about categories and corresponding labels. 

Uncovering the Linguistic, Social, and Cognitive Skills Underlying Toddlers' Lexical Processing Efficiency

Toddlers show vast individual differences in their lexical processing efficiency, i.e., their ability to process words they hear in transient speech. Using the looking-while-listening paradigm, this project explores linguistic, social, and cognitive skills underlying children's real-time lexical processing efficiency. 

Grocery Shopping
Mother with her Baby
Asking for Pacifier
Cute Baby

Attention, Language, Music, and Motor Development

Young children learn through hearing sounds in the world. Across cultures, language and music are two prevalent sources of auditory information surrounding young children. We are conducting a study exploring how music experience and exposure to different languages jointly shape 18- to 30-month-olds' attentional, language, and motor skills.