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Janette Chow

BSc (York), DPhil (Oxon)


Winkler Career Development Fellow in Psychology at St Hughs College

  • Postdoctoral Researcher at the Oxford BabyLab
  • Lecturer & Tutor for Part 1 Language & Cognition; Part 2 Language Acquisition
  • Tutor at St Hugh's College

Sleep and Language Acquisition: from Infancy to Toddlerhood

Research Summary

My theoretical interests lie in language, attention, memory and sleep. My doctoral work on language and attention focused on investigating the emergence of facilitatory and inhibitory connections between concepts and words within the toddler mental lexicon, and how these connections may mediate visual attention in eye-tracking studies. I found that, compared to toddlers with a relatively small vocabulary, those with a large vocabulary attend more to linguistically- and semantically-relevant information (Chow et al., 2017 JML), as well as ignoring information that was previously-attended but no-longer relevant (Chow et al., 2016 Psych Science; Chow et al., 2018, Dev Science).

My findings suggest a reciprocal relationship between toddler's vocabulary size and cognition - the more words they know, the better they are at attending to relevant information and ignoring irrelevant information. In reverse, attending to the right kind of information allows them to learn even more words. In fact, the literature has shown that early language ability (including vocabulary size) predicts later academic success.

My next step is to examine factors that promote vocabulary growth in toddlers. How can we set children up for success in life? Having received backing from the British Academy, I am currently investigating the causal and longitudinal role of sleep in vocabulary development. What kind of sleep (nap and/or night time sleep) promotes word learning? How does sleep promote memory integration? I also investigate how sleep EEG may act as a neurophysiological fingerprint of language and general cognitive ability in early infancy and the potential gender differences. 

Recent publications

More publications

Funding and Awards

2018- 2020 'Sleep and Vocabulary Development in Toddlerhood' British Academy / Leverhulme Small Grants (£10k)

2018-2020 Oxford University Internal Research Funding (£5k)

2018-2019 St Hugh's College Jackie Lambert Research Fund (£3k)

2017 Spanish Society of Experimental Psychology Best Scientific Paper in 2016: Chow, J., Aimola Davies, A.M., Fuentes, L.J., & Plunkett, K. (2016). Backward semantic inhibition in toddlers. Psychological Science. (€ 500)

2016 Best Poster Award at Annual General Meeting of Spanish Society of Experimental Psychology, Oxford UK: Chow, J., Aimola Davies, A.M., Fuentes, L.J., & Plunkett, K. Backward semantic inhibition in toddlers.  (€ 300)

2014 Graduate Student Award at International Conference on Infant Studies, Berlin, Germany (€ 250)

2013 Graduate Student Award at Central European University Conference on Cognitive Development, Budapest, Hungary 
(€ 130 fee waver)

Conference Presentations

Talks 

Chow, J., Aimola Davies, A.M., Fuentes, L.J., & Plunkett, K. (2016). Backward semantic inhibition supports attention-switching in toddlers. International Conference on Infant Studies, New Orleans, U.S.A. 

Chow, J., Aimola Davies, & Plunkett, K. (2015). Object labelling and selective attention in 2-year-olds. International Convention for Psychological Science, Amsterdam, the Netherlands. 

Chow, J., Aimola Davies, A.M., Brown, L., & Plunkett, K. (2014). The Tug of War Between Phonological, Taxonomic and Associative Information During Spoken Word Recognition in Two-year- olds. Biennial International Conference on Infant Studies, Berlin, Germany. 

Poster Presentations

Delle Luche, C., Kwok, R., Durrant, S., Chow, J., Horvath, K., Cannati, A., Abbot-Smith, K., Krott., A., Mills, D., Plunkett, K., Rowland, C., & Floccia, C. (2016). It’s a big world: Understanding the factors guiding early vocabulary development in bilinguals. International Conference on Infant Studies, New Orleans, U.S.A.

Floccia, C., Kwok, R., Delle Luche, C., Chow, J., Horvath, K., Cattani, A., Goslin, J., White, L., & Plunkett, K. (2016). Linguistic distance and semantic priming in 24- to 27-month-old bilingual children. International Conference on Infant Studies, New Orleans, U.S.A. 

Cattani, A., Kwok, R., Delle Luche, C., Horvath, C., Chow, J., Abbot-Smith, K., Goslin, J., Krott, A., Mills, D., Plunkett, K., Rowland, C., White, L., & Floccia, C. (2015). Not only amount of exposure but also linguistic distance to English affects the word learning of bilingual toddlers. In: Workshop in bilingual assessment of child lexical knowledge in Central Europe, 7-9 December 2015, Bratislava at Comenius University. 

Durrant, S., Delle Luche, C., Chow, J., Plunkett, K., Floccia, C. (2015). The origins of rhotic preference – natural or socially constructed? Poster presented at the 2015 SRCD Biennial Meeting, Philadelphia. 

Kwok, R.K.W., Delle Luche, C., Chow, J., Horvath, K., Cattani, A., Goslin, J., White, L., Plunkett, K., Floccia, C. (2015). Semantic priming effect in 24- to 27-month-old monolingual and bilingual children. Boston University Conference on Language Development, Boston, USA. 

Chow, J., Aimola Davies, A.M., & Plunkett, K. (2014). The Matching of Visual and Auditory Stimuli: Competition between Phonological and Taxonomic Representations during Spoken-word Recognition in 2-years olds. Dubrovnik Conference on Cognitive Science: Language and Conceptual Development. 

Chow, J., Aimola Davies, A.M., & Plunkett, K. (2013). The Time Course of Phonological and Semantic Knowledge Retrieval in Language-mediated Visual Search in 24- and 30-month-olds. Budapest CEU Conference on Cognitive Development, Budapest, Hungary.