Áine Ni Choisdealbha
Hi, I'm Áine. I'm interested in how babies learn to use tools. As babies grow, they get better at picking different toys and tools up and exploring them with their hands. Their understanding of what the adults around them are doing with different objects from spoons to mobile phones improves all the time as well. I use eye-tracking and EEG to figure out if infants know when someone is using a tool the wrong way. Using EEG, we can also look at differences between infants' and adults' brain responses to learn about how changes in brain activity might be linked to changes in how a baby understands actions.
My PhD research investigates early language acquisition. Children are amazing language learners, and I’m particularly interested in how children learn the names for the new objects that they encounter. The experiments that I run involve showing children different objects and examining how they interact with them. I also examine children’s looking with an eye-tracker, to better understand how children focus their attention on objects when they are learning the names for them.
I am a PhD student and staff researcher in the Department of Psychology at Lancaster University conducting research on how infants understand actions and how this is related to language. My PhD is funded by the European Union under the PEOPLE-Marie Skłodowska-Curie Actions programme (FP7).
Hi, I’m Christian. My work is on ostensive communication. Ostensive communication is a form of meta communication that tells you that you are communicated with. According to some theories, infants are already sensitive to a subset of ostensive signals, such as eye gaze and infant directed speech. They use these signals to learn from their caregivers. I am particularly interested in how infants use such cues to predict others’ actions and interpret them as meaningful. Furthermore, I am interested in how children transition from the use of fixed ostensive cues to become more flexible in their interpretation of signals as ostensive.
Dr Rebecca Frost
I am really interested in how infants learn language. Although it is one of the most difficult tasks we have to face, infants have a remarkable ability to learn language skills from an early age – this is something I am very impressed by, and I am keen to explore how they do it! I am working as part of the ESRC International Centre for Language and Communicative Development (LuCiD). My current research looks at the types of information that help infants to identify where one word ends and another begins in speech (speech segmentation), and I also look at how infants learn that different words belong to different categories, e.g. nouns and verbs. We can explore language learning in the lab by playing a sound clip of a new language, and then measuring infants’ looking times when we play familiar and unfamiliar sounds. In the past, I have researched the benefit of sleep for learning different grammatical rules.
Dr Gemma Taylor
I am interested in how infants and young children learn from baby media. Baby media include storybooks, children’s television and more recently, mobile apps. At Lancaster University, I am working in the ESRC Centre for Language and Communicative Development (LuCiD) investigating word learning in infants and young children. Specifically, I am looking at how infants transfer words learnt from storybooks and television to the 3D world. In my studies, young children watch a television show, puppet show or read a storybook in which the child will be introduced to some new objects and their names.
Dr Katie Twomey
I am fascinated by how children learn language, and especially the very beginnings of this process. At Lancaster I work with toddlers to explore how they learn categories of objects; for example, how do they learn that their pet is a cat, that the animal in the park is a cat, and that the animal in their picture book is a cat? Amazingly, even babies can work out what's an example of a category they've already seen, and what's new! Because toddlers will look for longer at new things than at things they've already seen, we are able to explore their categorisation by showing them a series of pictures on a computer screen and recording where and for how long they look. I also work with two-year-old children, using a pointing game to find out how they learn names for these object categories. I am also interested in how toddlers learn names for action categories, and how language input can help school-age children learn grammar, and when I'm not in the Babylab I design computer simulations to explore all these phenomena. At Lancaster I am a part of the ESRC International Centre for Language and Communicative Development, and I also collaborate with colleagues at the University of Sussex and Liverpool University. More information about my research, including the results of previous studies, is available here.
Dr Diana Tham
Hi, I’m Diana. I am interested in how babies make sense of the world using visual and auditory information. I am also interested in how babies recognise faces. Babies are exposed to many faces since they were born and as they get older, they develop different strategies and become experts in recognising certain type of faces. The studies that I run involve using the eye-tracker and showing animations or pictures to babies in order to understand how they learn from this information.
Professor Gavin Bremner
I am interested in how babies perceive events in which objects move in and out of sight behind other objects. As adults, we perceive the continued existence of a moving object even if it goes out of sight behind another object, and it turns out that quite young babies perceive this sort of object persistence too. We use various methods to find out what babies perceive, including eye tracking to see if babies anticipate reappearance of a moving object that has gone behind another object. I am also interested in babies' ability to coordinate information from different senses and how multi-sensory information supports perception of objects moving in space.
Dr Elena Geangu
Information about my research and research team can be found on the Social and Emotional Development lab website.
Dr Eugenio Parise
I received my PhD in Rome at "La Sapienza" University in 2005. Then I have spent three and a half years in Leipzig, Germany, at the Max Planck Institute for Human Cognitive and Brain Sciences, where I specialized in EEG/ERP (event related brain potentials) and NIRS (near infrared spectroscopy) techniques with young infants. I have done a second post doc in Budapest, Hungary, at the Cognitive Development Center of the Central European University, refining my theoretical and technical skills. My research interests are focused on infant development, in particular the development social cognition, with a stress on the role of ostensive communication and how it affects different cognitive process, such as attention, language development and categorization.
We are always looking to recruit families who might be interested in participating in our research.
Studies take place at the Lancaster University campus and typically involve a one-time visit lasting about 30 minutes. If you are pregnant or the parent of a baby or toddler and would like to join in our studies, please contact us.