Narrator: This is Science Today. How do children learn language? And how does their understanding of the word change over time? These are some of the questions being studied at the Center for Early Cognition and Language at the University of California, Merced. Social scientist Rose Scott, who directs this new research center, says understanding just how children learn the meanings of new words is something that people tend to take for granted.
Scott: Because most kids, you know — you talk to them, they learn to talk, but some children are behind in their vocabulary development. They don't learn words as quickly or as well and then that puts them at a real disadvantage when they get to school because they're so far behind their peers. So, we're trying to look at how to kids learn these new words because if we can figure that out, then maybe we can help those children that are a little bit behind.
Narrator: This includes children with atypical development, such as those with autism.
Scott: If we know more about how typical children develop, we can develop interventions that are effective for those children.
Narrator: For Science Today, I'm Larissa Branin.