Hi. I'm Yayun Zhang.

I am a postdoc reseacher at the Language Development Department, Max Planck Institute for Psycholinguistics, Nijmegen, Netherlands. I received my Ph.D. degree in Developmental Psychology and Cognitive Science from Indiana University where I was supervised by Dr. Chen Yu .

I am interested in understanding how children learn language from the world around them. My work focuses on statistical language learning, and in particular understanding the cognitive and attentional processes that support language learning. In my research, I draw on a variety of methodologies, such as using head-mounted eye-trackers to collect learning input from the learners’ own view in order to understand how different everyday environments engage learning mechanisms and how learner’s own developing cognitive and attentional systems shape early language learning input.

Research Topics

Young children are skilled word learners; within their first two years of post-natal life, they make a strong start on their native language. However, word learning is not trivial for the young child because in principle there is an unlimited number of referents embedded in the learning moment. How do infants know which word label maps onto which object? This problem is termed “referential uncertainty” in the word learning literature and has been studied extensively in the past several decades. However, little is known about the underlying mechanism of how learning unfolds in real time from naturalistic learning environment. Therefore, my work focused on examining the learning input and machinery of early word learning using input data collected from the child’s perspective. Understanding how infants learn and how learning develops not only directly impact understanding the cognitive and neural processes underlying adult cognition, but also have broad impacts on cognitive science, education, and artificial intelligence.

Statistical Learning

Verb Learning

Visual Attention


Journal Articles

Conference Proceedings


Max Planck Institute for Psycholinguistics
Language Development Department
Wundtlaan 1
6525 XD Nijmegen
The Netherlands

(000) 000-0000