Rachel Mayberry's main research investigates the effects of the onset of language acquisition over human development on adult language processing ability. Her goal is to construct a model of language comprehension that takes into account the timing of environmental stimulation in linguistic ontogenesis. She approaches this question from three perspectives: (1) psycholinguistic experiments of sign language processing across structural levels of language (syntactic, lexical, and phonological processing) in relation to age of L1 and L2 acquisition; (2) neuroimaging studies of sign language processing in early and late learners of sign language; and (3) developmental case studies of language acquisition begun in adolescence. In other research, Professor Mayberry extends this question to ask whether reading development can occur unimodally within vision by investigating its relation to sign language ability. Recent work on this question include a meta-analysis of phonological awareness and coding studies in deaf readers, reading development in deaf signers as a function of sign language comprehension ability and reading frequency, and English and French word recognition in relation to orthographic structure in deaf signers of ASL and LSQ (Quebec Sign Language).
Professor Mayberry is currently a Professor of Linguistics at UCSD where she serves on the executive committees of the Center for Research on Language and the Joint Doctoral Program in Language and Communicative Disorders, and is affiliated with the Center for Human Development. Her research has yielded key insights into the nature of the critical period for language, which have been widely published. Her work on co-speech gesture has been pioneering, including the discovery that gesture complexity is tied to syntactic complexity in bilingual acquisition and fluency disorder. She is co-editor of Language Acquisition by Eye, an influential book setting the research framework for sign language acquisition and reading development; she serves on the editorial board of Applied Psycholinguistics, and reviews research manuscripts and grant applications for more than 30 national and international journals and funding agencies.
She received the Ph.D. from McGill University where she was on the faculty for many years and served as Director of the School of Communication Sciences and Disorders in the Faculty of Medicine, and was a founding member of the Center for Research on Language, Mind, and Brain, and the Interdisciplinary Doctoral Program in Language Acquisition. She was recipient of a new investigator award from NIH and her research has been supported by numerous grants both in Canada and the USA. At UCSD she directs Comparative Language Acquisition Laboratory, which is partially funded by the National Science Foundation Science of Learning Center, Visual Language and Visual Learning, VL2.
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