Regular Faculty

Nameera Akhtar
  • Title
    • Professor
  • Division Social Sciences Division
  • Department
    • Psychology Department
  • Phone
  • Email
  • Website
  • Office Location
    • Social Sciences 2, 313
  • Office Hours Mondays 10-11am and by appointment (Winter 2020)
  • Mail Stop Psychology Faculty Services
  • Faculty Areas of Expertise Bilingualism, Multilingualism; Child and Adolescent Development; Language Development
  • Courses Psych 10: Introduction to Developmental Psychology, Psych 104: Development in Infancy, Psych 119F: Language Development, Psych 244A: Cognitive and Language Development

Summary of Expertise

Cognitive and social cognitive processes in early language development, infants' social understanding.

Research Interests

Nameera Akhtar's research interests are in early cognitive and language development; in particular, how social and cognitive developments play a role in young children's understanding and use of language. Infants' and toddlers' social-cognitive understanding , and their motivation to connect with others, are assumed to be fundamental to language development.

One way in which the importance of social-cognitive factors is investigated is by examining how young children use their social understanding in early word learning, even in situations in which they are not even being addressed. Using experimental techniques in semi-natural interaction contexts, we study what and how children learn from third-party interactions. These studies show that young toddlers are very motivated to understand what others are saying and doing and that they attend strategically to others' interactions.

Biography, Education and Training

B.S., M.S., Ph.D., Dalhousie University

Selected Publications

  • Akhtar, N. (2014). Learning words from overheard speech. In P. Brooks & V. Kempe (Eds.), Encyclopedia of language development (pp.339-341). Sage Reference.
  • Dinishak, J, & Akhtar, N. (2013). A critical examination of mindblindness as a metaphor for autism. Child Development Perspectives, 7, 110-114.
  • Akhtar, N., Menjivar, J., Hoicka, E., & Sabbagh, M. (2012). Learning foreign labels from a forein speaker: the role of (limited) exposure to a second language. Journal of Child Language, 39, 1135-1149.
  • Akhtar, N., & Menjivar, J.A. (2012). Cognitive and linguistic correlates of early exposure to more than one language. In J. B. Benson (Ed.), Advances in child development and behavior, Vol. 42 (pp. 41-78). Burlington: Academic Press.
  • O’Doherty, K., Troseth, G., Shimpi, P., Goldenberg, E., Akhtar, N., & Saylor, M. (2011). Third-party social interaction and word learning from video. Child Development, 82, 902-915.
  • Akhtar, N., & Gernsbacher, M.A. (2008). On privileging the role of gaze in infant social cognition. Child Development Perspectives, 2, 59-65.