The work we do spans the age range from before birth through to knowledge of the social and physical world in toddlers, including the investigation of how language is learned and how early communication leads to an understanding of words.
We are also interested in how infants learn about the permanence of the physical world around them, how they learn to categorise objects, and how these categories support early word learning. Another focus is early social development: How do babies develop an understanding of others as human beings, and how do they develop the ability to interact with others?
Our interest in social development extends to the investigation of babies' emotional worlds, how they understand emotion in others and develop empathy as the foundation of abilities that emerge later in childhood. We increasingly rely on high tech methods such as eye tracking, electroencephalography (EEG), and near-infrared spectroscopy (NIRS), in addition to behavioural measures of infant behaviour such as reaching for and attending to objects.
As a group, we are spearheading the further development of these techniques as ways of reaching a fuller understanding of the mental and emotional life of babies.
We are one of the largest groups in the world investigating Infancy and Early Development. We have devoted an entire floor of our building to this research, with child- and parent- friendly facilities and dedicated parking. Our facilities include multiple observational laboratories with cutting-edge equipment to enable sensitive recording of young infants’ abilities, including eye-tracking technology, electroencephalography (EEG), near-infrared spectroscopy (NIRs), electromyography (EMG), heart rate detection, galvanic skin response, and infrared motion capture.
Group Leader: Professor Gert Westermann