Dr Janette Chow

Subject: Psychology

Department: Academic - Fellows & Lecturers


My research strives to answer the question: How do toddlers build a lexical-semantic system?  

Language-mediated visual attention:  

a) I investigate what representations and processes are involved in spoken-word recognition and how they can drive toddlers’ visual attention.  

b) Backward semantic inhibition (BSI): I study the emergence of inhibitory links in the toddler lexical-semantic system, and how inhibition may support attention-switching.

Sleep and Lexicalisation (British Academy / Leverhulme Small Research Grants 2018- 2020):

Children are exposed to new words every day. They may be able to reproduce a new word immediately, but when does a new word become part of a toddler’s vocabulary (i.e. lexicalisation)? The process of lexicalisation is associated with sleep in children and adults, but unclear in infants and toddlers. I investigate the relationship between day-time naps/night-time sleep and the lexicalisation of new words. 


Born and raised in Hong Kong, I read Psychology as an undergraduate at York, followed by a doctorate at Oxford.  I am now the Winkler Career Development Fellow in Psychology at St Hugh’s.


Chow, J., Aimola Davies, A.M., Fuentes, L.J., & Plunkett, K. (2018). The vocabulary spurt predicts the emergence of backward semantic inhibition in 18-month- old toddlers. Developmental Science.

Chow, J., Aimola Davies, A.M., & Plunkett, K. (2017). Spoken-word recognition in 2-year- olds: The tug of war between phonological and semantic activation. Journal of Memory and Language, 93, 104-134.

Chow, J., Aimola Davies, A.M., Fuentes, L.J., & Plunkett, K. (2016). Backward semantic inhibition supports task-switching in toddlers. Psychological Science, 27 (10), 1312-1320.

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