Dr Rana Abu-Zhaya

Dr Rana Abu-Zhaya

Visiting Lecturer

School of Psychology (Faculty of Health)




Academic Appointments

  • Visiting Lecturer in Developmental Psychology, School of Psychology, University of Plymouth, Sep. 2022 - Present
  • Lecturer in Developmental Psychology, School of Psychology, University of Plymouth, Jan. 2021 - Aug. 2022
  • Postdoctoral Research Fellow, Department of Psychology, The Hebrew University of Jerusalem, Oct. 2018 - Dec. 2020


  • PhD, Speech, Language, and Hearing Sciences, Purdue University, USA, Aug. 2018
  • MSc, Speech, Language, and Hearing Sciences, Purdue University, USA, Aug. 2014
  • BA, Communication Sciences and Disorders, University of Haifa, Israel, Feb. 2009

Certification and Licensure

  • Clinically Certified Speech-Language Pathologist & Audiologist, Division of Medical Professions, Ministry of Health, Israel, Aug. 2010 - Present



Teaching interests

I have broad teaching interests that span various areas and topics: 

- Language development and its links to other areas of development (social, emotional, sensory, motor)

- Cross-cultural perspectives on early language development

- Language development in children with Developmental Language Disorder (DLD), Hearing Impairments, and Autism

- Academic writing and communicating research  

- Research methods

- Research ethics 



Research interests

Broadly speaking, I am interested in exploring how features of language input shape and influence language acquisition. Specifically, my research examines the multimodal, multisensory distributional properties of language input to infants and young children and how they learn from such input. To investigate these processes, I use a combination of observation-based methods (dyadic caregiver-infant interactions and naturalistic recordings from the home environment) and experimental studies of statistical learning and word learning utilizing physiological (heart-rate) and behavioral measures (preferential looking and the head-turn preference procedure).




Abu-Zhaya, R., Goffman, L., Brosseau-Lapré, F., Roepke, E., & Seidl, A. (under review). Oral restriction impacts word recognition in children with speech sound disorder. Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research.

Ko, E., Abu-Zhaya, R., Kim, E., Kim, T., On, K., Kim, H., Zhang, B., & Seidl, A. (under review). Mothers’ use of tactile cues for word learning is attuned to infants’ development: Evidence from Korean dyadic interactions. Infancy.

Abu-Zhaya, R. & Arnon, I. (registered report, in-principle acceptance). Does order of exposure impact the formation of linguistic predictions? Grammatical gender as a case study. Language Learning.

Abu-Zhaya, R., Arnon, I., & Borovsky, A. (2022). Do children use multi-word information in real-time sentence comprehension? Cognitive Science, 46(3), e13111.

Kellerman, A. M., Schwichtenberg, A. J., Abu-Zhaya, R., Miller, M., Young, G. S., & Ozonoff, S. (2020). Dyadic synchrony and responsiveness in the first year: Associations with autism risk. Autism Research, 13, 2190-2201.

Abu-Zhaya, R., Kondaurova, M., Houston, D., & Seidl, A. (2019). Vocal and tactile input to children who are deaf or hard of hearing. Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Sciences, 62(7), 2372-2385.

Lew-Williams, C., Ferguson, B., Abu-Zhaya, R., & Seidl, A. (2017). Social touch interacts with infants’ learning of auditory patterns. Developmental Cognitive Neuroscience, 35, 66-74.

Abu-Zhaya, R., Seidl, A., & Cristia, A. (2016). Multimodal infant-directed communication: How caregivers combine tactile and linguistic cues. Journal of Child Language, 44, 1088-1116.

Conference Papers

Chen, Q., Abu-Zhaya, R., Seidl, A., & Zhu, F. (2019). CNN based touch interaction detection for infant speech development. In 2019 IEEE Conference on Multimedia Information Processing and Retrieval (MIPR), 20-25.

Abu-Zhaya, R., Seidl, A., Tincoff, R., & Cristia, A. (2017). Building a multimodal lexicon: Lessons from infants’ learning of body part words. In Proc. GLU 2017 International Workshop on Grounding Language Understanding, 18-21.

Chen, Q., Li, H., Abu-Zhaya, R., Seidl, A., Zhu, F., & Delp, E. J. (2016). Touch event recognition for human interaction. Electronic Imaging, 2016(11), 1-6.