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Lauren Adamson

Emeritus, Regents Professor    

Education. Ph.D, University of California, Berkeley, 1977


Communication and language development, early social cognition, parent-child interactions, typical and atypical developmental trajectories


My primary research focus is communication development from early moments of mutual alertness to complex conversations. I have been particularly interested in the transformation of joint engagement, the active sharing of object and events during social interactions. Through the study of both typical and atypical developmental paths, I hope to contribute to theoretical understandings of social and cognitive development and to inform applied efforts to facilitate early communication and language acquisition.

As an Emerita faculty member, I no longer direct a laboratory in the department where I mentor students.  However, I continue to be an active researcher with several on-going projects.  Right now, my primary work related to joint engagement is focused on how children share speech, music, and environmental sounds with caregivers.  With funding from NICHD/NIH, I am collaborating with Roger Bakeman, Katharine Suma, and Diana Robins to describe how auditory joint engagement typically develops from 12 to 30 months and how developmental disorders including autism spectrum disorder (ASD) affect this development.  In addition, I am continuing to study how ASD affects gesturing, how the quality of early joint engagement supports language and literacy development of young low-income children, and how best to refine strategies for the early detection of ASD.

In addition, Katharine Suma and I are working with research groups in several countries to adapt the Joint Engagement Rating Inventory (the JERI) and the Communication Play Protocol, two systematic observational methods that I developed with Roger Bakeman during our studies of joint engagement.  Hopefully these techniques will provide a reliable and nuanced data that can be used to describe interactions in several cultural contexts and to assess the effectiveness of parent-focused interventions for children who are at risk for communication difficulties and language delay.  Manuals detailing these procedures are available.


Publications, 2017-

Adamson, L. B., Bakeman, R., Suma, K., & Robins, D. L. (2019).  An expanded view of joint attention:  Skill, engagement, and language in typical development and autism.  Child Development, 90 (1), e1-e18.

Luo, R., Alper, R., Hirsh-Pasek, K., Mogul, M., Chen, Y., Masek, L., Paterson S., Pace, A., Adamson, L. B., Bakeman, R., Golinkoff, R., & Owen, M. (2019, in press).  Community-based, caregiver-implemented early language intervention in high-risk families: Lessons learned.  Progress in Community Health Partnerships: Research, Education, and Action.

Adamson, L. B., Kaiser, A. P., Tamis-LaMonda, C. A., Owen, M. T., & Dimitrova, N. (2018, in press).  The Developmental landscape of early parent-focused language intervention.  Early Childhood Research Quarterly.

Ramsey, R. K., Nichols, L., Ludwig, N. N., Fein, D., Adamson, L. B., & Robins, D. L. (2018).  Brief report:  Sex differences in parental concerns for toddlers with autism risk.  Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders, 48, 4063-4069.

Khowaja, M. K., Robins, D. L., & Adamson, L. B. (2018).  Utilizing two-tiered screening for early detection of autism spectrum disorder.  Autism, 22, 881-890.

Özçalışkan, S., Adamson, L. B., Dimitrova, N., & Baumann, S. (2018).  Do parents model gestures differently when children’s gestures differ?  Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders, 48, 1492-1507.

Dimitrova, N., Özçalışkan, S., & Adamson, L. B. (2017).  Do verbal children with autism comprehend gesture as readily as typically developing children?  Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders, 47, 3267-3280.

Hasni, A. A., Adamson, L. B., Williamson, R. A., & Robins, D. L. (2017). Adding sound to theory of mind:  Comparing children’s development of mental-state understanding in the auditory and visual realms.  Journal of Experimental Child Psychology, 164, 239-249.

Özçalışkan, S., Adamson, L. B., Dimitrova, N., & Baumann, S. (2017).  Early gesture provides a helping hand to spoken vocabulary development for children with autism, Down syndrome and typical development.  Journal of Cognition and Development, 18, 325-337; 633.

Additional Representative Publications:

Hirsh-Pasek, K., Adamson, L. B., Bakeman, R., Owen, M . T., Golinkoff, R. M., Pace, A., Yust, P. K. S., & Suma, K. (2015).  The contribution of early communication quality to low-income children’s language success.  Psychological Science, 26, 1071-1083.

Adamson, L. B., Bakeman, R., Deckner, D. F., & Nelson, P. B. (2012).  Rating parent-child interactions:  Joint engagement, communication dynamics, and shared topics in autism, Down syndrome, and typical development. Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders, 42, 2622–2635.

Adamson, L. B., Bakeman, R., Deckner, D. F., & Romski, M. A. (2009).  Joint engagement and the emergence of language in children with autism and Down syndrome.  Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders. 39, 84–96.

Adamson, L. B., & Bakeman, R. (2006).  The development of displaced speech in early mother-child conversations.  Child Development, 77, 186–200.

Adamson, L. B., Bakeman, R., & Deckner, D. F. (2004).  The development of symbol-infused joint engagement.  Child Development, 75, 1171–1187.

Adamson, L. B., & Frick, J. E. (2003).  The Still-Face:  A history of a shared experimental paradigm.  A target article, Infancy, 4, 451–473.

Adamson, L. B., & Romski, M. A. (Eds.) (1997).  Communication and language acquisition:  Discoveries from atypical development.  Baltimore, MD:  Brookes.

Adamson, L. B. (1995).  Communication development during infancy.  Volume in the Advanced Developmental Series.  Madison, WI:  Brown and Benchmark.  Re-released in 1996 by Westview Press. Boulder Co.  Japanese translation by Y. Oyabu and M. Tanaka published by Kawashima Shoten in 1999.

Adamson, L. B. & Bakeman, R. (1985).  Affect and attention:  Infants observed with mothers and peers.  Child Development, 56, 582–593.

Bakeman, R. & Adamson, L. B. (1984).  Coordinating attention to people and objects in mother-infant and peer-infant interaction. Child Development, 55, 1278–1289.

(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.