The following projects are currently ongoing in the UEL BabyDevLab:
Baby Learning and Infant Sensitivity to the Environment
This project, funded by the Economic and Social Research Council, looks at the different types of home environment that different children experience at home, and examines how this affects a child’s concentration, learning and emotion regulation capacities. Participating in the project involves coming into the UEL BabyDevLab for a half-day lab session, where we will measure your child’s brain activity. We also conduct a one-day home visit, for which a researcher will visit your home in the morning to drop off some specially designed clothing for you and your child to wear! The clothing contains a built-in microphone, and video camera, and a built-in stress monitor. Using it, we will record how your levels of stress in your body, and those of your baby, vary over the course of a typical day.
Early social word-learning
This project, funded by a H2020 Marie Curie fellowship, looks at dyadic interactions between infants and their caregivers during early word-learning. We know very little about the neural substrates of how information is shared between caregivers and infants during early social learning. The aim of this project is to study how dynamic social interactions support attention and learning during infancy from a dyadic perspective. Participating in the project involves coming into the UEL BabyDevLab for a two hours session, during which we will measure both your brain activity, and your child’s brain activity while you play with toys.
Most infants, and young children, spend the majority of their early waking lives in the company of others. But, for practical reasons, almost everything that we know about how the brain subserves early attention and learning comes from studies that examined brain function in one individual at a time. In this 5-year project, funded by the European Research Council, we will be tracking a series of children longitudinally, and recording joint parent-child brain activity during shared early attention and learning at a variety of different ages.
Early detection and prevention of childhood anxiety
This project, funded by a London Interdisciplinary Social Science Doctoral Training Partnership award, aims to improve our understanding of early development in children at risk of developing anxiety disorders. In particular it looks at how different parenting styles can affect a child’s likelihood of developing anxiety problems. This project is based at the Institute of Psychiatry (King’s College) in collaboration with the UEL BabyDevLab.
Emotion-eliciting stimuli in infancy
Individual differences in the dynamic time course of responses to emotion-eliciting stimuli in infancy: A Longitudinal Study
Difficulty in responding under emotional
circumstances (e.g., threatening, frightening or frustrating) is one of the
core elements of many mental disorders such as depression, anxiety disorders
and Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder and emotional difficulties. This
study aims to investigate whether there are specific patterns/ milestones in
time-related characteristics of the reactions of typically developing infants
to continuously changing emotional responses during infancy. If so, we also
intend to examine individual differences and age-related changes in these
distinct patterns of emotional reactions.
This project is funded by the Republic of Turkey Ministry of National Eduction. It is being run as a collaboration between the Institute of Psychiatry (King’s College) and the UEL BabyDevLab.
Status, stress and attention
Socio-economic status, stress and selective attention
The project is funded by a UBEL Doctoral Training Partnership award. It is being run as a collaboration between the UEL BabyDevLab and Birkbeck, University of London.
Understanding physiological stress and attention in Rett syndrome
Rett syndrome is a rare genetic neurological and
developmental disorder that affects the way the brain develops, causing a progressive
inability to use muscles for eye and body movements and speech. One of the
characteristics of the disorder is that children with the disorder tend to
experience quite extreme fluctuations in physiological arousal. This project
looks at how these fluctuations affect children's ability to initiate eye
movements, and to pay attention to things.
The project is funded by the Rett Syndrome Research Trust, and is run as a collaboration between the UEL BabyDevLab and the Montefiori Medical Centre in New York.
State switching study
Research investigating the development of
children’s attention and cognition has focused on measuring optimal performance
during laboratory tasks. However, real life does not consist of a series of
continuous tasks. Rather, to function effectively, children need to be able to
switch between periods of rest or recreational activity to periods of work
(i.e. tasks). Adult research suggests that efficient switching between such
states involves the ability to regulate a specific a specific brain network -
the Default Mode Network (DMN) to allow other brain networks required for tasks
get to work.
Almost nothing is known about the development of state switching in children. In this project, which is a collaboration between the researchers from the department of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry, King’s College London and the UEL BabyDevLab we are aiming to establish what is the role of DMN in 4-6-year-old children’s ability to switch between recreation and cognitive tasks.
Teenage future thinking study
In everyday life we are often faced with a choice between competing options that differ both in objective value and availability in time. For example, to achieve healthy weight (delayed positive health outcome), I must resist eating a chocolate (small immediate pleasure). Adolescence is one crucial period when young people make important decisions that may have long-lasting impact on their adult life. Research suggests that imaging personally-relevant events or states that might occur in the future, which is called episodic prospection, may help us make better decisions. The benefits of engaging in episodic future thinking are stronger for individuals who usually are more prone to short-sighted behaviour. This highlights the potential importance of episodic prospection in supporting decision-making in adolescence, a period stereotypically perceived as characterized by risk-taking and short-sightedness. In this study, we are trying to find out more about psychological and brain mechanisms that underlie future thinking and decision-making in adolescence. This is a collaborative project between the researchers from the department of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry (King’s College London) and the UEL BabyDevLab.