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Lauren Adamson

Emeritus, Regents Professor    

Specializations: communication and language development, early social cognition, parent-child interactions, typical and atypical developmental trajectories


My research examines children’s communication development from early moments of mutual alertness to complex symbol-infused conversations. I have been particularly interested in the developmental transformation of the structure and focus of social interactions, including the emergence of symbol-infused joint engagement. Through the study of both typical and atypical developmental paths, I hope to contribute to theoretical understandings of early social and cognitive development and to inform applied efforts to facilitate communication and language acquisition.

My primary long-standing research project is a NIH-funded investigation of the development of joint attention. In our current grant cycle, Roger Bakeman, Diana Robins, Rebecca Williamson and I are observing infants and young children as they share sounds during social interactions with a parent in order to describe how auditory joint engagement typically develops, to determine how developmental disorders including autism spectrum disorder (ASD) affect this development, and to learn more about how variations in shared attention influence the emergence of language and social understanding. I am also working with Şeyda Özçalışkan on an NSF-supported study of the development of gesture and speech in ASD and with Diana Robins on an NIH-funded community-based screening project that is refining the early detection of ASD. In addition, I am collaborating with several colleagues to address pressing questions about the effects of poverty on early language development.

As an emerita faculty member, I remain deeply committed to efforts that foster interdisciplinary educational and research collaboration. I continue to mentor students in the developmental laboratory and to hold faculty affiliations with the Center for Research in Atypical Development and Learning (CRADL), the Neuroscience Institute, and the Area of Focus Initiative on Research on Challenges to the Acquisition of Language and Literacy. I am also a board member of the Atlanta Autism Consortium and a member of the national Bridging the Word Gap Research Network.


(2014 and 2015):

Özçalışkan, S., Adamson, L. B., Diitrova, N., Bailey, J., & Schmuck, L. (in press). Baby sign but not spontaneous gesture prediects later vocabulary in children with Down syndrome. Journal of Child Language.

Hirsh-Pasek, K., Adamson, L. B., Bakeman, R., Owen, M. T., Golinkoff, R. M., Pace, A., Yust, P. K. S., and Suma, K. (June 5, 2015 on-line). The contribution of early communication quality to low-income children’s language success. Psychological Science, doi: 10.1177/0956797615581493.

Adamson, L. B., Bakeman, R., & Brandon, B. (2015). How parents introduce new words to young children: The influence of development and developmental disorders. Infant Behavior and Development, 39, 148-158.

Adamson, L. B., & Dimitrova, N. (2014). Joint attention and language development. In P. Brooks & V. Kempe (Eds.), Encyclopedia of language development, (pp. 299–304). Los Angeles, CA: Sage publications.

Adamson, L. B., Romski, M. A., & Barton-Hulsey, A. (2014). Early language acquisition in autism spectrum disorders: A Developmental view. In V. B. Patel, V. Preedy, & C. Martin (Eds.). The Comprehensive guide to autism (pp. 1061–1081). New York: Springer.

Adamson, L. B., Bakeman, R., Deckner, D. F., & Nelson, P. B. (2014). From interactions to conversations: The development of joint engagement during early childhood. Child Development, 85,941–955.

Smith, A. L., Romski, M. A., Sevcik, R. A., Adamson, L. B., & Barker, R. M. (2014). Parent stress and perceptions of language development: Comparing Down syndrome and other disabilities. Family Relations, 63, 71–84.

For a list of my publications, please see my CV or my Google Scholar profile.