Interested in participating?
We are continually running studies examining children's cognitive, social and/or communicative development. Interested parents can contact us (by phone or email) or complete this "Join our participant database" form to have their children added to our database. When studies are being conducted for a particular age group we will contact all the parents of children that age from our database. We encourage you to view our flyer for more information. To give you an idea of the current studies we are running, a few are listed below.
Current Research Studies
Ages 3.5-4.5 years-old
Cognitive Flexibility and Communication
Executive functions, particularly cognitive flexibility, have been found to play an important role in children’s ability to communicate successfully (Bacso & Nilsen, 2017; Gillis & Nilsen, 2014). The purpose of this study is to determine if training in cognitive flexibility can generalize to improved communicative performance for children aged 3.5 - 4.5 year olds. Specific aims and objectives of this study include replicating findings from previous studies that found an intervention can lead to improvements in children’s executive functioning task performance, particularly in the domain of cognitive flexibility, as well as determining whether these improvements generalize to specific aspects of communication such as detecting ambiguity in communication and providing enough detail when describing objects. Our hypothesis is that children in the experimental condition who receive training in cognitive flexibility will perform better on communication tasks.
Ages 8-10 years-old
Shyness, Communication and Executive Functioning
We are interested in learning whether children’s cognitive skills, the ones that aid in goal-directed behaviour, called executive functions, and their temperament (in particular, shyness) play a role in communicative skills. Past work has found that children with better executive function skills are better communicators and that children with a shy temperament have difficulties with some aspects of communication. We are interested in whether these two factors (executive functioning and shyness) influence the role that each other has on communication. For example, we ask whether executive functioning is more or less important for the communication skills of children who are/aren’t shy.
Past Research Studies
Ages 4.5-5 & 7-8 years-old
Perspective Taking and Social Behaviour
A key aspect of learning how to interact successfully with others is in knowing how to modify your behaviour based on the context. This study examines how children’s sharing behaviour depends on the social context (i.e., cooperative or competitive) and the degree to which they are asked to focus on their own goals or the goals of another person (i.e., thinking about what they need versus what someone else needs). We are also interested in learning whether particular cognitive skills, called executive functions, play a role in facilitating children’s sharing behaviour
Ages 7-8 years
Children's Sensitivity to Speaker Consistency
Children are selective learners, that is, they attend to a number of factors to determine whether someone is a credible source of information or not (e.g., whether someone is knowledgeable, nice, etc.). In this study, we are interested in knowing whether children are sensitive to the consistency between an individual’s verbal and nonverbal cues, that is, whether what the speaker says (e.g., I just received a fun toy) matches how they say it (e.g., in a happy or sad voice). Children may be sensitive to both verbal/nonverbal cues and see inconsistent speakers as being less believable – or it may be the case that the overall positive/negative affect displayed by the speaker is important. Findings from this study will help us understand the various ways in which children learn from others in their environment.
Ages 9-11 years-old
Communication in Children with and without Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder
The purpose of this research is to look at the communication skills in children with and without ADHD. Past research has shown that children with ADHD have difficulties in language and social interaction. This study is designed to look at behavioural and communicative characteristics of children with and without ADHD when interpreting statements from another person. Children with a diagnosis of ADHD, as well as typically developing children, are welcome to participate in this study.
Ages 3-4 years-old
The Role of Feedback in Preschoolers’ Communicative Perspective-Taking
This study is designed to examine children’s sensitivity to information that is both shared and not shared by someone they are speaking with. In particular, we want to examine whether providing feedback on the communication task facilitates children’s performance on this task.
The Role of Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) in Social Interaction Skill Development
Effective social interactions between two people involve paying attention to a lot of different and complex information, including an interaction partner’s verbal and nonverbal behaviour, as well as deciding how to respond to an interaction partner. Past research has shown that children with ADHD tend to have more difficulties in social interaction than their peers. This study has been designed to explore the social interaction behaviours exhibited by children between the ages of 8 to 12, with and without ADHD, while interacting with their mother.
Ages 15-19 years-old
Working Memory, Inhibition, and Communication in Adolescents with ADHD
In this study, the Cognitive Development Lab (CDL) researchers are investigating communication difficulties in adolescents with and without ADHD. This study investigates how communication is related to working memory (a “mental workbench” which lets us hold information in our heads for a few seconds during problem solving) and inhibition (which is our mind’s way of putting on the breaks and preventing us from saying or doing something we should not). To examine how working memory and inhibition relate to ADHD, adolescents between the ages of 14 and 19 who participate in this study will work on a number of different communication tasks, as well as some working memory and inhibition games. This will allow us to look at whether working memory and inhibition contribute to the communication skills of adolescents who have ADHD.