Given that language is a sub-system of mind, research on how humans acquire language is a major aspect of the study of knowledge acquisition, and a branch of cognitive science. Research on how Chinese speakers acquire their native languages forms an essential component of the cognitive study of the languages of China. The Language Acquisition Laboratory (LAL) was established in early 2006 to promote the theoretical study of language acquisition and empirical research on the acquisition of Chinese languages.
The laboratory studies the development of language in the individual, combining methods of naturalistic observation with experimental techniques. It investigates the language competence of toddlers and preschool children, focusing on early lexicon, syntax and semantics. The laboratory addresses issues of language learnability, integrating language acquisition with linguistic theory, studying language learning from a perspective which is informed by developments in linguistics and other areas of cognitive science. Special attention is devoted to cross-dialectal and cross-linguistic variation in child language viewed from the perspective of parameter theory.
Recent projects have been concerned with issues of lexical spurt, overextension and basic-level categories in early lexicon; the onset of syntactic categories, word order, and argument structure; the quantificational competence of young children with respect to classifiers, quantifiers, and negation; pitch and tone in early phonetic perception and production; and acquisition of vowel length.
The Language, Learning, and the Brain Laboratory conducts research in experimental linguistics, including language processing, language learning, speech perception and production, computer-assisted learning, neurolinguistics, and communication disorders.
We are housed in the Department of Linguistics and Modern Languages. The laboratory encompasses about 950 square-feet of space. Laboratory facilities include two sound-attenuated chambers and associated equipment for conducting language, auditory perception and speech production experiments (e.g., button boxes, microphones, headphones), separate rooms for eye-tracking, cognitive and other behavioral testing, and offices for post- and pre-doctoral fellows. The Department houses other laboratories with additional researchers and research support staff who can provide technical and intellectual support.
The laboratory has a Neuroscan 256-channel EEG system with a Stim2 calibrated hardware and software system and Curry 7 software for data processing, including source analysis and co-registration with MRI data. The laboratory also has an Eyelink II head-mounted eyetracking system. There are multiple computers (PC and Linux stations) with software programs for sound editing (e.g., Praat), stimulus presentation (e.g., E-Prime), and manuscript editing (e.g., Microsoft Word). Linux workstations have the capability for analyzing MRI data. These computers are connected to a server with backup capabilities.
In addition, The Chinese University of Hong Kong has two research dedicated MRI scanners available for neuroimaging research. A 3T Philips system is housed in the Department of Imaging and Interventional Radiology in the Prince of Wales Hospital. A 3T Siemens system is housed in the Shenzhen Institutes of Advanced Technology. These research scanners are supported by MR Physics, radiologists, technicians, and engineers who are specialized in image analysis.
G17, Leung Kau Kui Building, The Chinese University of Hong Kong