After almost two decades of national
research success, the MARCS BabyLab has opened its first ever international
research partner laboratory.
Earlier this month Western Sydney
University and Thammasat University in Bangkok launched the research site and
signed a Memorandum of Understanding to cement future research collaborations.
The MARCS BabyLab is a
world-renowned hub for pure and translational research on infant language
development, and the MARCS-CILS NokHook BabyLab is the first ever infant
research lab in Thailand.
The new lab is a joint facility for
research based in the MARCS Institute for Brain, Behaviour and Development at
Western Sydney University (WSU), and in the Center of Excellence in Intelligent Informatics, Speech
and Language Technology, and Service Innovation (CILS), Thammasat University.
The MARCS BabyLab focuses on
research areas such as early speech perception, word learning, communication
between parents and their infants, and the precursors of literacy.
CILS long-term focus on research will
be in the areas of linguistics, engineering, and clinical applications such as
hearing impairment in infants.
MARCS BabyLab leader, Dr Marina
Kalashnikova, said initial research at the NokHook facility will focus on
investigating early language and cognitive development in babies and toddlers
who are acquiring the Thai language.
"The Thai language differs greatly
from English in various ways, for example, unlike English it uses tones to
distinguish the meanings of words, so it is interesting to investigate what
language-specific processes take place when babies acquire this language," she said.
"The lab is equipped with state of
the art equipment that will allow us to conduct experimental research with
babies in their first days of life. We have ensured that this equipment is
identical to the equipment at our Western Sydney University based baby labs to
facilitate cross-laboratory and cross-language comparisons.
"This research will broaden our
understanding of speech perception and language acquisition in infants."
Research at the CILS facility in
Thailand will be conducted under the guidance of chief investigator and
linguist Dr Chutamanee Onsuwan from Thammasat University.
The MARCS BabyLab is expanding its
national and international profile with more centres due to open in the coming
For more information, contact Farah
Abdurahman on (02) 9772 6695 / 0427945 382 / F.Abdurahman@westernsydney.edu.au