Lab Personnel

The WordPlay lab personnel consists of Dr. Behrend, his graduate students Maddie Myers-Burg and Christina Barnes, and undergraduate research assistants.

Principle Investigator


Douglas Behrend, Ph.D.

Doug Behrend received his Ph.D. from the University of Minnesota in 1986 and was a post-doctoral fellow at the University of Michigan. He has been with the University of Arkansas since 1989 and is currently celebrating his 30th year in the department. He is head of the WordPlay lab and teaches both undergraduate and graduate courses in developmental psychology and related issues. Dr. Behrend has been conducting research in child development for over 20 years. His research interests have long included children’s word learning, and more recently children’s selective trust in speakers, children’s learning and sharing of privileged information, and children’s accent preferences.


Graduate Students 

Madison Myers-Burg, M.A.

I am a graduate research assistant and the lab coordinator for the WordPlay Lab at the U of A. I received my BA from Ouachita Baptist and am working toward obtaining my PhD from the University of Arkansas. I am interested in the cognitive development of children, more specifically, how children learn and use language to navigate the world. Without support from Fayetteville schools and the community, our research would not be possible. Thank you!



Christina Barnes, B.S.

I’m Christina Barnes and I’m a graduate research assistant for the WordPlay Lab. I received my B.S in Psychology from Christopher Newport University in Newport News, VA in May of 2019 and decided I wanted to pursue research here at the University of Arkansas. I’m interested in cognitive development in children because I’ve seen firsthand how important formative years can be and I want to know more. I’m excited to be a part of the WordPlay team and I look forward to discovering new information as I continue my education here!


Undergraduate Student Assistants


Jose Gonzalez

Hello! My name is Jose Gonzalez and I’m a sophomore majoring in Psychology at the University of Arkansas. This is my first semester as a research assistant in Dr. Behrend’s lab. This research is very interesting to me because language development is an intriguing topic to me, and even more so when it comes to children’s language development. I hope to further my knowledge in this lab and better my understanding on developmental psychology.


Emma Cheaney

Hi, my name is Emma Cheaney. I’m a honors sophomore student majoring in psychology with a human development minor. I have a pre-occupational therapy focus, and I hope to work with children in my future career. I am interested in a range of topics within the field of psychology, but I am particularly interested in mental health and how child cognition can effect physical development.


Brittany Taghizadeh

Hi! My name is Brittany Taghizadeh and I am a senior at the University of Arkansas. I am a psychology major/ biology minor and I want to go to medical school!  Along with being a research assistant in this lab, I am also the Vice President of the Razorback Relay for Life club on campus, a member of the biology club, volunteer at Arkansas Children’s Hospital, attend bible study, and nanny for a family here in Fayetteville.  I joined the WordPlay lab because I am interested in developmental psychology and I love interacting with children, seeing how their minds change and grow over time. I am excited to see how our research may one day help others learn about and better understand childhood development.

Andie Smith

Hi! My name is Andie Smith and I am a junior at the University of Arkansas majoring in psychology. I have a passion for clinical psychology and aspire to go to graduate school to become a clinical therapist studying how learned emotion regulation in children can affect adult behavior and the ability to label specific emotions. This is my first semester in Dr. Behrend’s lab and I am excited to study language and cognition!

Reba Pascual

Hi! My name is Reba Pascual and I am a junior Psychology major at the University of Arkansas. I hope to continue my education into graduate school and pursue a Clinical Psychology degree and want to work with children who have undergone trauma and help with their behaviors that arise from those situations. This is my first semester in Dr. Behrend’ s lab and I am really excited to learn more about how children’s minds work!


Cynthia Cochran

My name is Cynthia Cochran. I’m a senior Biology and Psychology double major. I want to attend medical school and specialize in pediatrics. I love working and interacting with children. 


 Lab Alumni

Rachel Stevens, Ph.D. – Assistant Professor at Kentucky Wesleyan College

Danica Bass, B.A. – Graduate of the Department of Psychological Sciences



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    Contact Information
    Please feel free to contact us with any questions, comments, or concerns!

    Email address:
    Main office phone: 479-575-4256
    Graduate offices phone: 479-575-5819

    Mailing address:
    Dr. Douglas Behrend
    Department of Psychology
    216 Memorial Hall
    University of Arkansas
    Fayetteville, AR 72701


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