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The main goal of this project is to contribute to the theory of early language development within the emerging embodied, distributed and situated approach to cognition. Congruently with earlier, functionalist theories of language, we investigate how children learn the controlling power that utterances have in interactions with other people rather than simple correspondences to external objects.

This project involves a series of studies on early interactions between infants (2 to 12 months) and caregivers, aiming at: 1) extending our collaborative work to reveal the background structure of early interactions in which language is immersed; 2) showing the timing and place language assumes in these interactions; 3) demonstrating the difference that language makes in structuring interactions, especially in directing them towards external world; 4) analyzing how language progressively decouples from the ongoing physical activity (decontextualization). 

The project relies on integration of the expertise, infrastructure and resources of two research centers, which evidence a high degree of compatibility and complementarity: Joanna Rączaszek-Leonardi and Przemyslaw Tomalski from the Faculty of Psychology, University of Warsaw bring in expertise in ecological psychology and quantitative (traditional and dynamical) analyses and Katharina Rohlfing from Paderborn University and Iris Nomikou (now from University of Portsmouth) are specialized in early semantics, language development, qualitative and quantitative analysis of early interaction.



Wildt, E., Rohlfing, K. J. & Scharlau, I. (2019). The Role of Saliency in Learning First Words. Frontiers in Psychology, 10, 1150.

Rączaszek-Leonardi, J., Nomikou, I., Rohlfing, K. J., & Deacon, T. W. (2018). Language Development From an Ecological Perspective: Ecologically Valid Ways to Abstract Symbols. Ecological Psychology, 30, 39–73.

Nomikou, I., Koke, M., & Rohlfing, K. J. (2017). Verbs in mothers’ input to six-month-olds: synchrony between presentation, meaning, and actions is related to later verb acquisition. Brain Sciences, 7, 52.

Nomikou, I.,  Leonardi, J., Rohlfing, K. J. & Rączaszek-Leonardi, J. (2016): Constructing interaction: The development of gaze dynamics. Infant and Child Development 25: 277–295.

Leonardi, G., Nomikou, I., Rohlfing, K. J. & Rączaszek-Leonardi, J. (2016). Vocal interactions at the dawn of communication: The emergence of mutuality and complementarity in mother-infant interaction.  In: Proceedings of the IEEE ICDL-EpiRob, Cergy-Pontoise.


(in the picture from left to right):

Dr. Iris Nomikou (University of Portsmouth)
Prof. Dr. Katharina J. Rohlfing (Paderborn University)
Prof. Dr. Joanna Raczaszek-Leonardi (University of Warsaw)
Alicja Radkowska (University of Warsaw)
Dr. Giuseppe Leonardi (Paderborn University)
Eugenia Wildt (Paderborn University, not in the picture)