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I obtained a BSc in Physics from Imperial College before switching to Experimental Psychology at Sussex University where I obtained a D.Phil. in 1979. After brief sojourns at Nottingham University and the Open University, I moved to the Institute of Psychology, Aarhus University, Denmark and studied children's acquisition of Scandinavian languages. From 1986, I spent a great deal of time at the University of California, San Diego studying the application of neural networks to modelling linguistic and cognitive development in young children. Since 1991, I have been a member of the faculty in the Department of Experimental Psychology, University of Oxford and a Fellow of St. Hugh's College, Oxford. In 1992, I established the Oxford BabyLab which is a research facility for the experimental investigation of linguistic and cognitive development in babies and young children. I maintain an active interest in Scandinavian languages and neural network modelling.

Kim Plunkett


Emeritus Professor of Cognitive Science

Linguistic & Cognitive Development

Research Summary

My main interest is in understanding the mechanisms of change that drive linguistic and cognitive development in infants and young children. The primary focus of my work is on word recognition, word learning, semantic development and category formation during the first two years of life. I also have a long standing interest in morphological processes in children and adults.

Researchers in my lab employ experimental techniques (preferential looking, eye-tracking and habituation), computational modelling (artificial neural networks) and imaging (ERPs) methods as tools of investigation. 

Current Research Grants

  • Infant Bilingualism
    ESRC (2019-2022)
  • Language Mediated Attention in Infancy
    Leverhulme Trust (2018-2021)
  • Language in Infant Category Learning
    NSF (2013-17) 

Recent Research Grants 

  • Vowels and Consonants in the Brain
    Wellcome Trust (2008-12)
  • Infant Predictors of Learning to Read
    Nuffield Foundation (2012-15) 
  • Lexical Development in Bilingual Toddlers
    ESRC (2013-2016)

Key publications

Recent publications

More publications