Jenny Saffran's work on infant language learning has taken top honors among student papers submitted this year to the Cognitive Science Society, and she will receive the David Marr Prize at the Society's annual meeting this month in San Diego. Her paper is titled "Statistical Cues in Language Acquisition: Word Segmentation by Infants."
The paper offered persuasive evidence that babies around the age of 8 months can pick out individual words from the rush of sounds that make up speech by keeping track of the order of the sounds that they hear. Her paper adds fresh evidence to the view that well before babies utter their first words, they develop powerful linguistic tools for understanding language.
Saffran is a doctoral candidate in the Department of Brain and Cognitive Science at the University of Rochester. Her research was done in collaboration with Professors Richard Aslin and Elissa Newport.