Laura Janakiefski


About Me

I am a PhD student in the Department of Psychology and Human Development at Vanderbilt University working with Dr. Megan Saylor, focusing on children's active role in language learning and memory for words. I also collaborate with Dr. Ashleigh Maxcey and Dr. Sarah Brown-Schmidt to study the effects of language on visual memory and forgetting in adults.

Before coming to Vanderbilt, I graduated with a Bachelor's degree in Neuroscience and Education from The Ohio State University.

My Research

One line of my research focuses on how children actively request language input and use questions to learn about novel word meanings. I'm interested in characterizing the word learning environment of the child based on the perspective of their own active engagement in the learning process. I'm also interested in how this active role influences children's memory for learned items.

A second line of my work focuses on adults' memory for and forgetting of images. In this work I'm interested in exploring how individuals forget things they have seen before as a result of recognizing other categorically-related images (i.e., induced forgetting), as it relates to language use and labeling. I'm interested in the ways this pattern of forgetting informs existing theoretical models of memory as well as the practical implications of this phenomenon.