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Infancy and Early Development

Organisation profile

Our work spans the age range from before birth through to knowledge of the social and physical world in toddlers. Our work includes investigation of how language is learned and how early communication leads to 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 investigation of babies' emotional worlds, how they understand emotion in others and develop empathy as the foundation of abilities that emerge later in childhood. Our work increasingly relies 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. Our group is spearheading the further development of these techniques as ways of reaching a fuller understanding of the mental and emotional life of babies.

For questions and further information please ask Professor Gert Westermann.

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