Dr Kiwako Ito Seminar
Dr Ito is a psycholinguist who holds an MA (1997) and PhD (2002) from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Following her PhD she held a post-doctoral fellowship at Ohio State University, then held a position of senior researcher at OSU Linguistics from 2007-2018, working on intonation processing and acquisition with both NSF and NIH grants, directing and supervising multiple eye-tracking projects both in the departmental psycholinguistics lab and the Language Research Lab at the Center of Science and Industry, Columbus, Ohio. Ito’s work applies psycholinguistic methodologies (e.g. eye-tracking) to study how people respond to speech signals in a wide range of groups of language users. Her research focuses on the effect of prosody on the comprehension of spoken message. She has investigated how children process prosodic emphasis while they comprehend spoken sentences, and has demonstrated prosodic functions in adolescents with Williams syndrome and children with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD). These studies suggest that dynamic speech can facilitate communication with people with developmental disorders, although people with cognitive impairment may process prosodic speech signals differently than their typically-developing peers. Her current research focuses on testing young children with ASD tests to determine whether prosodic prominence facilitates visual object search and event recall. Her project team is also trying to determine prosodic differences between therapists’ speech and parental speech to better understand what makes the input from therapies effective for language development.