Prof. Sarah C. Creel
Time: 2-5pm Wednesdays
Location: CSB 103

COGS 260 syllabus 9_7_2016


How do learners young and old form representations of speech sounds, words, music? This course will review classic to modern literature on topics including speech sound acquisition, word-meaning mapping, phonological pattern learning, music acquisition and processing, auditory statistical learning, and the role of variability in auditory category learning. We will explore behavioral, neurophysiological, and computational approaches, turning a critical eye toward differences in investigative techniques (conditioned head turn; (dis)habituation; association learning; eye tracking; ERP) and what each of these paradigms can—and cannot—tell us about development and plasticity.

Provide a basic foundation in speech sound acquisition and word learning literature
Increase knowledge of common practices in research on infants and children
Build the ability to think critically about scientific papers
Provide an opportunity to develop a research proposal

Important dates
First course meeting 9/30/2015
Meet with me re: paper topic by 11/6/15
Final paper due 12/14/2015 (negotiable)

Course attendance and participation (7+) 14%
Weekly summaries (8) 56%
Final paper 30%

Summaries are due at the beginning of class. Late work is generally not acceptable; please check with me in advance if an emergency prevents you from attending.

I strongly discourage you from missing classes due to the highly discussion-based nature of the course. Please consult me ahead of time if something prevents you from making it to class.

Each week, you should provide a write-up in the form of a review of one of the papers assigned for that week. I will provide you with examples of reviews I have written, with identifying information removed. Questions to keep in mind:

  • What is the research question?
  • What was the specific hypothesis?
  • Who were the participants? How many were eliminated?
  • What technique was used?
  • What was the result?
  • How did the authors interpret the result?
  • To what extent are the authors’ conclusions supported by the actual data?
  • How does the technique affect the outcome?

Final paper
A final 10-page paper is due by the end of finals week. This paper can be a proposal for a research project, or can simply be a review. In either case, your paper should review the literature on a topic that particularly interests you, and that we don’t have time to cover fully during the course itself. It should include a reference list of at least 15 papers, at least 10 of which were not assigned for the class itself. A few possible topics:

Anticipatory eye movements as a measure in language processing
Role of consonants vs. vowels in word learning
ERP studies of word recognition
Functional imaging during language development
Music and plasticity
Acquisition of signed language
Language disorders
Acquisition/enculturation of music perception

Paper formatting guidelines
Please use 1-inch margins and 12-point font, double-spaced. Times font is preferred.
Try to use as little direct quotation as possible; summaries and the final paper should be in your own words. If you are quoting more than 1-2 sentences directly (remember to give citations in the text and “include page number(s);” Creel, 2013, p. 12), it’s too much.
The reference list and in-text citations should follow APA style. The papers listed below are examples of reference list format. (DOI numbers can be omitted.)