Dr Kirsten Abbot-Smith (Principal Investigator) and Dr Michael Forrester (Co-Investigator), along with Professor Sue Leekam (Cardiff University) and Dr Danielle Matthews (University of Sheffield), have been awarded £328,544 to conduct research examining cognitive constraints on children’s ability to manage a conversation topic.
Kirsten and the team will experimentally manipulate factors such as the intensity of the speaker’s personal topic interest, cognitive flexibility, and core language processing efficiency to investigate their relative influence on the conversations of children, including those with an autism diagnosis. Their findings are expected to lead to a well-specified model of conversational topic management.
They have also received another award of £9,994 with Danielle Matthews (University of Sheffield, Co-Investigator) to carry out research on conversational topic management in typically-developing seven and eight year-old children. Kirsten (Principal Investigator) will lead the quantitative study manipulating the role of speech rate and dual-task on conversational proficiency. Michael (Co-Investigator) will analyse the resulting conversations using qualitative methods to explore children’s strategies for moving from one topic to another.