UC Merced Connect: Professor finds infant learning linked to walking

Infants show a sharp increase in understanding and using language shortly after they begin walking, according to research by a UC Merced developmental psychology professor.

“What is it about walking?” professor Eric A. Walle said. “Does walking lead to more exploratory behavior by infants, then more labeling by parents and more words?”

Walle and his interpersonal development lab are trying to figure out what factors might be leading to the language growth.

Like many discoveries, this one was serendipitous. Walle and his then-Ph.D. adviser at UC Berkeley, professor Joseph J. Campos, were studying a different aspect of child development.

Walle demonstrated the walking-talking connection as the infants developed between 10- and 131/2 months old, and in a group of crawling and walking infants that were 121/2 months old.

The two studies together showed that the spike in language was clearly associated with walking, not with age.

The study was published last summer in Developmental Psychology. Walle has another study under review that shows the same finding in Chinese infants, evidence that the connection crosses cultures.

Walle is part of a growing psychology group at UC Merced that includes experts in health, quantitative and developmental psychology and affiliated faculty in public health and cognitive science.

He focuses on understanding how children develop between the ages of 11 months and 2 years old. One line of inquiry looks at how they respond to different emotions expressed by adults.

MS program saves students software cash

UC Merced students are using some of the latest and most popular Microsoft Office applications without having to dig into their wallets.

The free software is available under Microsoft’s Student Advantage program, which allows campuses that license Office 365 or Office Professional Plus for staff and faculty to extend Office 365 ProPlus to students.

UC Merced is among the first wave of schools and universities to offer the benefit to students, which comes at no additional cost to the campus. The agreement between Microsoft and UC Merced permits the university to provide the latest version of Office 365 ProPlus to students at school, home and on the go.

Students can run Office 365 ProPlus on up to five PCs or Macs and Office Mobile on several mobile devices. Available applications include Word, Excel, Outlook and PowerPoint. The program is available throughout a student’s academic career at UC Merced.

Student Vianka Astorga, who started at UC Merced last fall, said she installed Office 365 ProPlus in about 10 minutes and uses it every day.

“It has become very beneficial for me since I am able to do all of my school work with much ease,” said Astorga, a biological sciences major from Delhi. “UC Merced provided a wonderful benefit to students who already spend a large amount of money for their post-high school education.”

Todd Van Zandt, director of academic technology and user services on campus, said the program was released to students in late January.

There is no hard count of students who have installed Office 365, but heavy traffic at the information technology help desk is one sign of strong response.

“We certainly have seen a good response from students asking for assistance at our IT Help Desk,” Van Zandt said. “Students definitely appreciate that they have access to this.”

Because students don’t have to buy Office, the total potential savings could be in the hundreds of thousands of dollars, he added.

The Student Advantage program is made possible through the recent campus-wide adoption of Office 365 and existing Microsoft enterprise agreements.