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Gert Westermann supervises 5 postgraduate research students. If these students have produced research profiles, these are listed below:

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Professor Gert Westermann

Professor, Head of Department

Gert Westermann

Lancaster University

Fylde College



Tel: +44 1524 592942

Research overview

For more information on my research group and our publications see our lab webpage: http://wp.lancs.ac.uk/westermann-lab/ 

My research is in developmental cognitive science: In my group we use a variety of methods (eye tracking, EEG, NIRS, fast mapping, computational modelling) to study mainly infants' cognitive and early language development. In general I am interested in the question how intrinsic and environmental factors combine to shape a developmental trajectory and eventually, the adult system.

 Main research areas:

Curiosity-based Learning and Development

Infants are curious learners and explore their environment freely. In my group we study if there is systematicity to this exploration and we aim to understand how infants actively shape their learning environment to optimize their learning. We also use computational models to develop mechanistic explanation of curiosity-based, intrinsically motivated learning.  


Object and Word Learning

We explore how infants learn about objects in the world during their first year of life, and how they learn words for these objects (and actions) during the second year of life. Using eye tracking and pupil dilation, we have investigated how infants combine different object properties (e.g., visual appearance and sound) into a coherent whole, how early words enable infants to shape object categories, and how knowing the name of an object affects the mental representation of this object. We have also investigated how temperament, and specifically shyness, affects early word learning.  


Neuroconstructivist Development

I am interested in the relationship between brain and cognitive development and have used computational models to explore this link. This work has so far focused on the development and adult processing of verb inflections, demonstrating how experience-dependent brain development can lead to specialized processing structures that internalize the statistical properties of the environment in the ‘hardware’ of the brain.


PhD supervision

Infant cognitive development, computational modelling, language processing

Research Grants

LuCiD: ESRC International Centre for Language and Communicative Development (co-PI with 21 others, £9.3 million), 2014-2024

British Academy/Leverhulme Trust Senior Research Fellowship (PI), Information selection in infants’ curiosity-based learning, 2016-2017

British Academy/Leverhulme Trust Small Research Grant (co-PI, with Katie Twomey; £9,554), Curiosity-based infant categorisation: an empirical view, 2015-2016

Leverhulme Trust Doctoral Scholarship Programme (PI, £1,050,000), Interdisciplinary Research on Infant Development, 2015-2021

British Academy/Leverhulme Trust Small Research Grant (co-PI, with Eugenio Parise; £9,458), Categorization Processes in 9-­Month-­Old Infants: Ostensive Labelling vs. Common Visual Features, 2014-2016

Lichtenberg Fellowship,University of Göttingen (€68,000), Germany, January - July, 2013

Lancaster University Friends Programme Grant (PI, with Melissa Allen, Dina Lew, Katie Alcock, Gavin Bremner, Karen Mattock; £4,191), Support for publicity and student projects at the Lancaster Babylab, 2011-2012

ESRC Research Grant (PI; £99,937), Multisensory processing of objects in infancy, 2011-2012

British Academy Small Grant (co-PI, with Louise Bunce; £7,118), Young children's understanding of the fantasy-reality distinction: perceptual or conceptual processing?, 2010-2011

ESRC Research Grant (PI; £105,468), The effect of labels on category formation in infancy, 2009-2011

British Academy Small Grant (PI; £3,502), Investigating past tense formation in adults: a neurophysiological study, 2008-2009

ESRC Research Grant (PI; £288,082), Understanding the processing of verb inflections through statistical analyses, experiments and neural networks, 2006-2009

Royal Society Research Grant (co PI with Joseph T. Devlin; £9,400), TMS investigations of morphology in Broca's area, 2006-2007

Career Details

PhD, Centre for Cognitive Science, University of Edinburgh

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