Lynn Perry, Ph.D. Dr. Lynn Perry

Assistant Professor, Child Division


University of Iowa, 2012 ,


Job Openings

Graduate Research Assistant Position

The Object and Word Learning Lab invited applicants interested in pursuing a PhD in developmental psychology For more information, please refer to the Department of Psychology's admissions page.

Undergraduate Research Assistant Position

The Object and Word Learning Lab in the Department of Psychology at the University of Miami invites applicants interested in undergraduate research. Students can read about opportunities here and fill out the online application.

Research Interests

A question motivating much of my research is What do words do? In particular, I'm interested in the extent to which verbal labels causally impact cognitive processes over developmental and immediate timescales. In answering this question, I use a variety of methods, including behavioral studies with children between 1 and 12 years of age, and non-invasive brain stimulation techniques with adults.

Current Research

Novel noun generalization

What do children even 'know' when they learn a new word. For example, when a child learns the word 'banana', has she learned something about its color, its shape, or both? Furthermore, little is known about individual differences in this knowledge, and what drives such differences: do differences in existing vocabulary knowledge lead to differences in what children remember about new words? To answer these questions, we are currently exploring children's and adults' knowledge and categorization of objects that they can already name (e.g., 'banana') and of novel objects for which we teach them a novel name (e.g., 'wug').

Iconicity in language development

Why do some words sound like what they mean? We recently found that children learning English and Spanish tend to acquire words high in iconicity, or correspondence between form and meaning, earlier than words low in iconicity. Ongoing research projects are exploring the role of iconicity in language development and in language evolution.

Similarity classification

What makes things the same? In this line of research we ask children and adults to compare objects and substances and judge how similar things are to each other. We're interested in the types of information (e.g., shape, material, color) people pay attention to when making these judgments and how this changes over development. We're also interested in the types of words people use to describe why things are similar or different.

Transcranial direct current stimulation

How does language, once acquired, continue to impact cognitive processes? In our lab, we examine the effects of perturbing neural activity (using transcranial direct current stimulation, or tDCS) over Wernicke's area on adults' ability to categorize familiar and novel objects. Up-regulating activity in this area (associated with verbal labeling, particularly comprehension of word meaning) increases participants' ability to selectively focus on a single dimension, while down-regulating activity decreases this ability.

Selected Papers

For a complete list of publications, please see my google scholar page - here.

Perry, L.K., Perlman, M., & Lupyan, G. (2015). Iconicity in English vocabulary and its relation to toddlers' word learning. In Noelle, D. C., Dale, R., Warlaumont, A. S., Yoshimi, J., Matlock, T., Jennings, C. D., & Maglio, P. P. (Eds.), Proceedings of the Thirty-seventh Annual Conference of the Cognitive Science Society.

Perry, L.K. (2015) To have and to hold: looking versus touching in the study of categorization. Frontiers in Cognition, 6:178.

Perry, L.K. & Lupyan, G. (2014) The role of language in multi-dimensional categorization: Evidence from transcranial direct current stimulation and exposure to verbal labels. Brain and Language, 135(2014), 66-72

Perry, L.K., Samuelson, L.K., & Burdinie, J.B. (2014) Highchair philosophers: the role of context-dependent exploration on young children's naming biases. Developmental Science, 17(5), 757-765.

Perry, L.K. & Samuelson, L.K. (2013). The role of verbal labels in attention to dimensional similarity. In M. Knauff, M. Pauen, N. Sebanz, & I. Wachsmuch (Eds.), Proceedings of the Thirty-fifth Annual Conference of the Cognitive Science Society.

Perry, L.K. & Samuelson, L.K. (2011) The shape of the vocabulary predicts the shape of the bias. Frontiers in Developmental Psychology, 2:345.

Perry, L.K., Samuelson, L.K., Malloy, L.M., & Schiffer, R.N. (2010). Learn locally, think globally: Exemplar variability supports higher-order generalization and word learning. Psychological Science, 21(12), 1894-1902.


PSY 330- Psychology of Language Development (undergraduate level)

PSY 230- Child and Adolescent Development (undergraduate level)

PSY 623 Language Development (graduate level)