Casey Lew-Williams

Casey Lew-Williams
Assistant Professor
216 Peretsman Scully Hall
Ph.D. Stanford University
Curriculum Vitæ (102.93 KB)

Most babies and toddlers have a prodigious ability to learn language, in part because they spend a lot of time listening, looking, and interacting with caregivers. In the Princeton Baby Lab, we study domain-general learning mechanisms and specific features of learning environments in order to understand the beginnings of human cognition and their consequences on children's outcomes.

Each young child's ability to find structure in patterned input is rooted in and shaped by experience. To investigate why experience is important, we manipulate subtle aspects of exposure to language in distilled, 5-minute simulations of learning, and we also define experience in a more ecologically valid way by investigating typicality vs. adversity in developmental circumstances. Using a broad construal of what it means to be in a non-standard language environment, our research includes children learning two languages, children in poverty, children at risk for learning delays/disorders, and adults learning a second language. We combine motivations and methods from the fields of psychology, linguistics, and communication sciences & disorders, and we measure the complexities of simple behaviors like eye and head movements, attention to referents, and communication with others.

Representative Publications

Potter, C. E., & Lew-Williams, C. (in press). Infants’ selective use of reliable cues in multidimensional language input. Developmental Psychology.

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Schwab, J. F., & Lew-Williams, C. (in press). Discontinuity of reference hinders children’s learning of new words. Child Development.

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Reuter, T., Emberson, L. L., Romberg, A. R., & Lew-Williams, C. (2018). Individual differences in nonverbal prediction and vocabulary size in infancy. Cognition, 176, 215-219.

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Piazza, E. A., Iordan, M. C., & Lew-Williams, C. (2017). Mothers consistently alter their unique vocal fingerprints when communicating with infants. Current Biology, 27, 3162-3167.

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Byers-Heinlein, K., Morin-Lessard, E., & Lew-Williams, C. (2017). Bilingual infants control their languages as they listen. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 114, 9032-9037.

PDF (1.06 MB)