Barbara Conboy

Assoc Professor, Comm Disorders

Degrees: Ph.D., Language and Communicative Disorders (joint program, University of California, San Diego and San Diego State University, 2002); M.A., Speech-Language-Hearing Sciences (Temple University, 1992); B.A., Latin-American Studies (Smith College, 1985)

Office: Comm Disorders, Truesdail Center

Office Hours: Tues/Wed/Thurs by appointment.

Phone: 909/748-8061



Areas of Expertise

Early language development (typical and atypical) in bilingual (Spanish-English) children; multicultural issues in language learning; nonlinguistic factors in language development.

Professional Background Highlights

Dr. Barbara Conboy is an ASHA-certified speech-language pathologist with specialty training in early language and bilingualism. Dr. Conboy has professional experience working in public schools, Head Start programs, community and university clinics, hospitals, and private practice. In her research she uses a combination of behavioral-experimental, observational, parent-report, and event-related brain potential (ERP) methods to study linguistic and nonlinguistic cognitive factors in early language learning and processing, focusing on dual-language learners (simultaneous and sequential bilingual learners of Spanish and English) in the U.S. and monolingual Spanish-learning infants and young children in Mexico. She has published several peer-reviewed articles and book chapters on her work with infants, toddlers, preschoolers, and school-age children, and co-authored the Spanish version of the MacArthur-Bates Communicative Development Inventory, a widely used parent report questionnaire for measuring language skills in infants and toddlers. Dr. Conboy is especially interested in improving language services to young children from bilingual and non-English-speaking backgrounds.

Courses Offered at Redlands

  • CDIS 307 Early Language Development and Disorders
  • CDIS 627 Issues in Cultural and Linguistic Diversity
  • CDIS 652 Research and Experimental Design
  • CDIS 620 Seminar in Language Pathology

Degrees Held

  • Ph.D., Language and Communicative Disorders (joint program, University of California, San Diego and San Diego State University, 2002)
  • M.A., Speech-Language-Hearing Sciences (Temple University, 1992)
  • B.A., Latin-American Studies (Smith College, 1985)

Previous Teaching Experience

  • University of Washington
  • San Diego State University
  • University of California, San Diego

Professional Experience

  • Research Associate (2003-2008) and Instructor (part time, 2005), Institute for Learning and Brain Sciences and Dept. of Speech & Hearing Sciences, University of Washington
  • Clinical Speech-Language Pathology Instructor, Dept. of Communicative Disorders, San Diego State University (part time, 1997, 1998, 2001, 2002)
  • Bilingual Speech-Language Pathologist; 1995 - 1998
    Logan Heights Family Health Center, San Diego, CA
  • Bilingual Language-Speech-Hearing Specialist; 1994 - 1996
    Chula Vista Elementary School District, Chula Vista, CA
  • Language-Speech-Hearing Specialist; 1993 - 1994
    Laguna Salada Union School District, Pacifica, CA
  • Bilingual Speech-Language Pathologist; 1992 - 1993
    Access Speech & Language, San Francisco, CA
  • Bilingual Teacher of Moderate Special Needs; 1986 - 1988
    Holyoke Public School District, Holyoke, MA

Awards, Honors and Grants

  • National Institute of Child Health & Human Development, National Research Service Award (Post-doctoral), “Bilingual and Second Language Learning in Infancy”, 2006 - 2009
  • Fellowship, Visiting Researcher Programme, ESRC Centre for Research on Bilingualism in Theory and Practice, Bangor University, Wales, 2008
  • Early Career Researcher Prize, Developmental Science, Blackwell Publishing, 2006
  • Bamford-Lahey Children’s Foundation, Doctoral Scholarship, 2001 - 2002
  • University of California Linguistic Minority Research Institute, Dissertation Grant,2000 - 2001
  • National Institutes of Mental Health Training Program in Cognitive Neuroscience
  • (University of California, San Diego), Pre-doctoral Fellowship, 2000 - 2001
  • Administration for Children, Youth and Families, Head Start Research Scholar’s Grant, 1998 - 2000
  • McDonnell-Pew Training Program in Cognitive Neuroscience, Pre-doctoral Fellowship, 1997 - 1998

Publications, Presentations and Panels

Kuhl, P.K., García-Sierra, A., Conboy, B., Percaccio, C., & Romo, H.D. (2010). "Bilingual language development: brain measures of phonetic learning, variation in language input, and language outcomes." Symposium presentation at the 2010 International Conference on Infant Studies, Baltimore, MD, March 10-14, 2010.

Conboy, B.T., Jackson-Maldonado, D., & Kuhl, P.K. (2009). "Speech perception in bilingual and monolingual infants." Poster presented at the American Speech, Language, and Hearing Association Convention, New Orleans, LA, November 19-21, 2009.

Conboy, B.T. (in press, 2009). "The brain and language acquisition: variation in language knowledge and readiness for education." In M. Shatz and L. Wilkinson (Eds.), The education of English language learners: Research to practice. Guilford Press.

Kohnert, K., Kan, P.F., & Conboy, B.T. (in press, 2009). "Lexical and grammatical associations in sequential bilingual preschoolers." Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research.

Conboy, B.T. & Kuhl, P.K. (2009). "Impact of second-language experience in infancy: Brain measures of first- and second-language speech perception" (Manuscript under revision).

Conboy, B.T., Sommerville, J., & Kuhl, P.K. (2008). "Cognitive control factors in speech perception at 11 months." Developmental Psychology, 44(5), 1505-1512.

Kuhl, P.K., Conboy, B.T., Coffey-Corina, S., Padden, D., Rivera-Gaxiola, M., & Nelson, T. (2008). "Phonetic learning as a pathway to language: New data and Native Language Magnet Theory-expanded (NLM-e)." Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B, 363(1493), 979-1000.

Conboy, B.T., Rivera-Gaxiola, M., Silva-Pereyra, J.F., & Kuhl, P.K. (2008). "Event-related potential studies of early language processing at the phoneme, word, and sentence levels." In A.D. Friederici & G. Thierry (Eds.), Early language development: bridging brain and behavior, Trends in language acquisition research series, Vol. 5 (pp. 24-64). Amsterdam/The Netherlands: John Benjamins.

Conboy, B.T., Sommerville, J., & Kuhl, P.K. (2008). "Cognitive control skills and speech perception after short-term second language experience during infancy." Paper presented at the Acoustics ’08 Meeting, Paris, FR, June-July 2008.

Conboy, B.T., Brooks, R., Taylor, M., Meltzoff, A., & Kuhl, P.K. (2008). "Joint engagement with language tutors predicts brain and behavioral responses to second-language phonetic stimuli." Poster accepted for presentation at the XVIth Biennial International Conference on Infant Studies, Vancouver, BC, March 27-29, 2008.

Conboy, B.T. & Kuhl, P.K. (2007). "Early speech perception: developing a culturally specific way of listening through social interaction." In S.L. Bråten (Ed.), On being moved – from mirror neurons to empathy (pp. 175-199). Amsterdam/Philadelphia: John Benjamins Publishing Company.

Jackson-Maldonado, D. & Conboy, B.T. (2007). "Utterance length measures for Spanish-speaking toddlers: the morpheme vs. word issue revisited." In J.G. Centeno & L.K. Obler & R. Anderson (Eds.), Studying communication disorders in Spanish speakers: Theoretical, research, & clinical aspects (pp. 142-155). Clevedon, England: Multilingual Matters Ltd.

Silva-Pereyra, J.F., Conboy, B.T., Klarman, L., & Kuhl, P.K. (2007). "Grammatical processing without semantics? An event-related brain potential study of preschoolers using jabberwocky sentences." Journal of Cognitive Neuroscience, 19(6), 1050-1065.

Conboy, B.T. & Mills, D.L. (2006). "Two languages, one developing brain: Effects of vocabulary size on bilingual toddlers’ event-related potentials to auditory words." Developmental Science, 9(1), F1-F11.

Conboy, B.T. & Thal, D. (2006). "Ties between the lexicon and grammar: Cross-sectional and longitudinal studies of bilingual toddlers." Child Development, 77(3), 712-735.

Conboy, B.T., Rivera-Gaxiola, M., Klarman, L., Aksoylu, E., & Kuhl, P.K. (2005). "Associations between native and nonnative speech sound discrimination and language development at the end of the first year." In A. Brugos, MR. Clark-Cotton, & S. Ha (Eds.). Supplement to the Proceedings of the 29th Boston University Conference on Language Development.  

Kuhl, P.K., Conboy, B.T., Padden, D., Nelson, T., & Pruitt, J. (2005). "Early speech perception and later language development: implications for the 'critical period'." Language Learning and Development, 1(3&4), 237-264.

Mills, D.L., Conboy, B.T., & Paton, C. (2005). "Do changes in brain organization reflect shifts in symbolic functioning?" In L. Namy (Ed.) Symbol use and symbolic representation: Developmental/lifespan perspectives (pp. 123-153). Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates.

Jackson-Maldonado, D., Thal, D., Marchman, V., Fenson, L., Newton, T., & Conboy, B. (2003). "User’s Manual, MacArthur Inventario del Desarrollo de Habilidades Comunicativas." Baltimore: Paul H. Brookes Publishing Co.

Gutiérrez-Clellen, V.F., Brown, S., Conboy, B., & Robinson-Zañartu, C. (1998). "Modifiability: a dynamic approach to assessing immediate language change." Journal of Children's Communication Development, 19(2), 31-43.

Professional Affiliations

  • American Speech-Language-Hearing Association
  • International Association for the Study of Child Language
  • International Society for Infant Studies

Thurber, an English bulldog, is the University's mascot.

He is named after Clarence Howe Thurber, University president from 1933-37.

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