Heads, shoulders, knees and toes: What developmental robotics can tell us about language acquisition

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterpeer-review


Decades of research have brought us a long way in understanding the many factors that affect language acquisition. However, while a wealth of empirical studies have characterised children’s language learning behaviours, from pre-speech to syntax, until relatively recently researchers have been unable to explicitly test developmental mechanisms. However, advances in computational modelling and in particular in developmental robotics have allowed researchers to implement and test developmental theories, specifying explicitly the knowledge and cognitive computations assumed to be at play during language development. The current chapter reviews a series of developmental robotics models of the early stages of language development, illustrating (a) the importance for future theory development of cross-disciplinary collaboration and (b) an emerging new view of language acquisition in which nonlinguistic – as well as linguistic – input drives language development.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationCurrent Perspectives on Child Language Acquisition
Subtitle of host publicationHow children use their environment to learn
EditorsCaroline Rowland, Anna Theakston, Ben Ambridge, Katherine Twomey
Place of PublicationAmsterdam
PublisherJohn Benjamins Publishing Company
Number of pages26
ISBN (Electronic)9789027261007
ISBN (Print)9027207070, 9789027207074
Publication statusPublished - 1 Sept 2020

Publication series

NameTrends in Language Acquisition Research


  • language acquisition
  • developmental robotics


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