Dr. Janet F. Werker is Professor and Canada Research Chair in the Department of Psychology at the University of British Columbia.
Dr. Werker is the founder and a member of the Early Development Research Group, a consortium of six research centers interested in the development of language, learning, and social understanding in infants and children.
Werker is internationally recognized for her research investigating the perceptual foundations of language acquisition in both monolingual and bilingual learning infants. Her over 150 papers and chapters, have appeared in prestigious journals including Science, Nature, Nature Communications, Trends in Cognitive Sciences, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, Journal of Neuroscience, Psychological Science, and Cognition as well as in the premier journals in developmental psychology, language, and perception. Her research is funded by NSERC, SSHRC, and CIFAR in Canada, and by the NIH in the U.S. Previous funding sources include the Human Frontiers Science Program, the James S. McDonnell Foundation, and NTT Laboratories.
My research focuses on understanding the roots of language acquisition, by studying speech perception in infancy, the mechanisms by which native speech sound categories are acquired, and how speech perception supports early word learning. In my lab we study infants from hours after birth up to toddler hood using behavioral, electrophysiological (ERP), and non-invasive optical neural imaging using near-infrared-spectroscopy (NIRS). We study infants growing up in different language environments, infants growing up bilingual, and infants with, or at risk for, developmental disabilities. Adult studies focus on speech perception and lexical processing of both spoken language and visual speech, and involve behavioral and neuroimaging studies. More recently, in collaboration, I have also begun exploring the nature of critical periods, and epigenetic processes that underlie developmental change.
Werker, J.F. (in press). Perceptual beginnings to language acquisition. [Target article with peer commentaries]. Applied Psycholinguistics.
Choi, D., Black, A., & Werker, J.F. (2018). Cascading and multisensory influences on speech perception development. Mind, Brain, and Education.
Curtin, S., & Werker, J.F. (2018). PRIMIR on Tone. [Opinion]. Frontiers in Psychology. [Special Issue on Lexical Tone Perception in Infants and Young Children: Empirical Studies and Theoretical Perspectives], 9, 1007.
May, L., Gervain, J., Carreiras, M., & Werker, J.F. (2017). The Specificity of the Neural Response To Speech at Birth. Developmental Science, e12564.
Havy, M., Foroud, A., Fais, L., & Werker, J.F. (2017). The role of auditory and visual speech in word-learning at 18 months and in adulthood. Child Development, 88(6), 2043-2059.
Danielson, D.K., Bruderer, A.G., Kandhadai, P., Vatikiotis-Bateson, E., & Werker, J.F. (2017). The organization and reorganization of audiovisual speech perception in the first year of life. Cognitive Development, 42, 37-48.
Kandhadai, P., Hall, D.G., & Werker, J.F. (2017). Second label learning in monolingual and bilingual infants. Developmental Science, 20(1), e12429.
Kemp, N., Scott, J., Bernhardt, B.M., Johnson, C.E., Siegel, L.S., & Werker, J.F. (2017). Minimal Pair Word Learning and Vocabulary Size: Links with Later Language Skills. Applied Psycholinguistics, 38(2), 289-314.
Gervain, J., Werker, J.F., Black, A., & Geffen, M.N. (2016). The neural correlates of processing scale-invariant environmental sounds at birth. Neuroimage, 133, 144-150.
Bruderer, A.G., Danielson, D.K., Kandhadai, P., & Werker, J.F. (2015). Sensorimotor influences on speech perception in infancy. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 112(44), 13531-13536.
Gurnot, C., Martin-Subero, J., Mah, J., Weikum, W., Goodman, S., Brain, U., Werker, J.F., Kobor, M., Esteller, M., Oberlander, T., & Hensch, T.K. (2015). Prenatal antidepressant exposure associated with CYP2E1 DNA methylation change in neonates. Epigenetics, 10(5), 361-372.
Werker, J.F., & Hensch, T.K. (2015). Critical Periods in Speech Perception: New Directions. Annual Review of Psychology, 66, 173-96.
For a full list of publications, please visit the Infant Studies Centre website.
- Canada Research Chair (2001-2007 & 2008-2013 & 2015-2021)
- Canadian Institute for Advanced Research Fellow (2004-2021)
- Killam Prize in Social Sciences (2018)
- Officer of the Order of Canada (2017)
- Pickering Centre for Research in Human Development Award (2017)
- University Killam Professor (2016)
- Social Science and Humanities Research Council Gold Medal (2015)
- American Academy of Arts and Sciences Fellow (2014)
- Cognitive Science Society Fellow (2013)
- American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) Fellow (2006)
- Association for Psychological Science Fellow (2005-2009)
- Canadian Psychological Association Fellow (1996)
- Royal Society of Canada Fellow (1996)