Michelle Peter-pic

Michelle Peter


Phone: 0151 794 1108

University of Liverpool

A bit about Michelle Peter

I have always been fascinated by how children manage the tricky business of learning language. In particular, I am interested in learning what factors during the first years of a baby’s life are important for language development.

I completed my undergraduate degree in Psychology at the University of Liverpool in 2008, and have recently submitted my doctoral thesis, also at the University of Liverpool. Using the structural priming paradigm, my research explored how and when children learn about grammar, with a particular focus on how their experience with verbs influences the language that they produce. My findings have shown that although children seem to have early abstract grammatical knowledge, they also have knowledge about how individual verbs behave (see Peter, Chang, Pine, Blything & Rowland, 2015).

My Role in LuCiD

My work has focused on studying children’s grammatical knowledge, but I am also interested in how variation in the quantity, quality, and conditions of the early linguistic input, as well as individual differences can impact language development - especially since these factors are predictors of educational attainment and future academic success. It’s no surprise then that my role as a Research Assistant on the Language 0-5 Project - which looks at just this - is my idea of a perfect job!

As the largest longitudinal study of children’s language development in the UK, the Language 0-5 Project will follow 85 children from the age of 6 months to 4 and a half years old to help us understand how children learn to communicate effectively. My role, along with my colleagues, is to test these children at regular points throughout this time using a range of standardised language measures and experimental methods. Not only will this project allow us to build a comprehensive picture of language development in the early years, but it will also help us to learn why some children seem to be able to process language more quickly than others. 

LuCiD publications (6) by Michelle Peter

Bidgood, A., Kirk, E., Durrant, S., Peter, M., Pine, J. & Rowland, C. (2018). Baby sign, mind-mindedness and language development. Poster presented at the 8th International Society for Gesture Studies Conference, Cape Town, South Africa

Frost, R. L. A., Peter, M., Durrant, S., Bidgood, A., Rowland, C., Monaghan, P. & Christiansen, M. H. (2016). How do infants use nonadjacent dependencies during language acquisition? Poster to be presented at the Fifth Implicit Learning Seminar. Lancaster, UK.

Frost, R. L. A., Peter, M., Durrant, S., Bidgood, A., Rowland, C., Monaghan, P. & Christiansen, M. H. (2016). How do infants use nonadjacent dependencies during language development? Poster presented at the XX Biennial International Conference on Infant Studies, New Orleans, LA, USA.

Peter, M. (2015). The role of the verb in the development of syntax: evidence from the structural priming paradigm. PhD thesis, University of Liverpool.

Rowland, C. & Peter, M. (2015). Up to speed? Nursery World Magazine, 15 June, 18-20.

Peter, M., Chang, F., Pine, J., Blything, R. and Rowland, C. (2015). When and how do children develop knowledge of verb argument structure? Evidence from verb bias effects in a structural priming task. Journal of Memory and Language, 81, 1-15

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