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Julia Irwin


Associate Professor

Ph.D., University of Connecticut


Phone: (203) 392-8804

Research interests:
Language development, communication, speech perception, autism, developmental disability

Research program:

My research program explores the development of communication and language. Within this broad area, my current research focuses on the role of the face in the perception of speech. I use a lifespan approach to examine the development of audiovisual speech perception in typically developing children and adults. Recently, I have begun extending my basic research on typical individuals to assess individual differences in audiovisual speech perception in special populations, including children with autism spectrum disorders, poor readers and stutterers. My work makes use of multiple methodologies, including eye-tracking, functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) and event related potentials (ERP) to assess key factors that underlie perception of seen and heard speech and their spatial and temporal signatures.


Irwin, J.R., Preston, J.L, Brancazio, L., D’Angelo, M. & Turcios, J. (in press). Development of an Audiovisual Speech Perception App for Children with Autism Spectrum Disorders. Clinical Linguistics and Phonetics.

Preston, J.L., Molfese, P., Gumkowski, N., Sorcinellia, A., Harwood, V., Irwin, J., & Landi, N. (in press). Neurophysiology of speech differences in childhood apraxia of speech. Developmental Neuropsychology.

Irwin, J.R. & Brancazio, L. (2014). Seeing to hear? Patterns of gaze to speaking faces in children with autism spectrum disorders. Frontiers, Language Sciences. doi: 10.3389/fpsyg.2014.00397.

Mulak, K. E., Best, C.T., Tyler, M.D., Kitamura, C., Bundgaard-Nielsen, R.L. & Irwin, J.R. (2013). Development of phonological constancy: 19-month-olds, but not 15-month-olds, identify words spoken in a non-native regional accent. Child Development, 84(6), 2064-2078.

Irwin, J.R., Moore, D.L, Tornatore, L. & Fowler, A. (2012). Promoting Emerging Language and Literacy during Storytime. Children and Libraries, 21-25.

Irwin, J.R., Mencl, W.E., Frost, S.J., Chen, H. & Fowler, C. (2011). Functional activation for imitation of seen and heard speech. Journal of Neurolinguistics, 24, 611-618.

Irwin, J.R., Tornatore, L.A., Brancazio. L & Whalen, D.H. (2011). Can children with autism spectrum disorders “hear” a speaking face? Child Development, 82(5) 1397-1403.

Mirman, D., Irwin, J.R., & Stephen, D. (2012) Eye Movement Dynamics and Cognitive Self-Organization in Typical and Atypical Development. Cognitive Neurodynamics, 6, 61-73.

Katz, L., Brancazio, L, Irwin, J., Katz, S., Magnuson, J., Scarborough, H. & Whalen, D. (2011) What Lexical Decision and Naming Tell Us About Reading. Reading and Writing, 25, 1259–1282.

Mongillo, E.A., Irwin, J.R., Whalen, D.H., Klaiman, C., Carter, A.S. & Schultz, R.T. (2008). Audiovisual processing in children with and without autism spectrum disorders. Journal of Autism and Developmental Disabilities, 38,1439-58.

Irwin, J.R. (2007). Auditory and audiovisual speech perception in children with autism spectrum disorders. Acoustics Today, 7-15.

Irwin, J.R., Whalen, D.H., & Fowler, C.A. (2006). A sex difference in visual influence on heard speech. Perception & Psychophysics, 68,582-592.

Irwin, J.R. (2003). Parent and non-parent perception of the multimodal infant cry. Infancy, 4, 503-516.

Irwin, J.R., Carter, A.S., & Briggs-Gowan, M. (2002). The social-emotional development of late-talking toddlers. Journal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, 4, 1324-1332.

Horwitz, S.M., Irwin, J.R., Briggs-Gowan, M.J., Heenan, J. B., Mendoza, J., &  Carter, A.S. (2003). Language Delay in a Community Cohort of Young Children. Journal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry. 42, 932-940.

Briggs-Gowan, M.J., Carter, A.S., Irwin, J.R., Wachtel, K., & Cicchetti, D. (2004). The Brief Infant-Toddler Social and Emotional Assessment: Screening for social-emotional problems and delays in competence. Journal of Pediatric Psychology, 29,143-155.

Whalen, D.H., Best, C.T. & Irwin, J. (1997). Lexical effects in the perception and production of American English /p/ allophones. Journal of Phonetics, 25, 501- 528.

Research Internship:

Every semester, students can register for Psy 197 (Research Internship) for up to three credits. Psych 197 is a great opportunity to gain first-hand experience in how cognitive psychology research is conducted. Students enrolled in Psych 197 are responsible for running participants in experiments, and get involved in various aspects of the research process, such as organizing data and files, scheduling and cataloging participants, and helping with data analysis.

If you are interested in enrolling in Psych 197, please email me during the registration period or during the add/drop period.

Independent Study/ Undergraduate Honors Thesis / Master's Thesis:
If you have an idea for a Research Study that you would like to conduct that involves language/communication in children or adults, please come see me so we can discuss how to set up an independent study project.

Off-Campus Research Internships and Other Research Opportunities:
Haskins Laboratories and Haskins Laboratories Child Language Studies has many ongoing projects involving several aspects of speech perception, speech production, and reading, including skilled reading, reading acquisition, and reading disability. There are sometimes opportunities for psychology majors to do an internship working with research teams at Haskins, by registering for Psych 463 (Field Practicum in Psychological Research).