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Current Research

Psychology students in library

The following projects are currently ongoing in the UEL BabyDevLab:

BLAISE study

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.

JDIL Study

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 hour session, during which we will measure both your brain activity, and your child’s brain activity while you play with toys.  

ONACSA Study

Joint parent-infant brain activity

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.

Childhood anxiety

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.

Environmental sensitivity, developmental-context and sustained attention (ELSA)

Children are not equally susceptible to rearing and other contextual experiences and yet contextual effects are still widely assumed to apply equally to all children. This study examines the interaction between individual differences in environmental sensitivity, the developmental context in which they emerge and how this affects early child development. The project is one of two which form part of the Early Life Sensitivity and Adaptation (ELSA) study. It looks at many different measures that have been used to define 'sensitivity' in previous studies: autonomic sensitivity; neural sensitivity; negative and positive behavioural reactivity and temperament - to see, for the first time, the extent to which all these measures associate within infants and whether there is a single factor of sensitivity which varies between individuals? Measurements were taken from babies from the local community who visited the BabyLab in Stratford with their parents when they were 6, 12 and 24-months to explore the development of sensitivity and how it correlates with measures of infant attention.

The project is funded by the Economic and Social Research Council and is a UBEL Doctoral Training Partnership award. It is being run as a collaboration between the UEL BabyDevLab and Birkbeck, University of London.

Dynamic social interactions

New insights into how the infant brain subserves dynamic social interactions

Almost everything we know about how attention ‘happens’ in the brain has come from studying individuals in isolation. However, most early attention and cognitive learning takes place in shared contexts, during social interactions with a partner. We know little of the neural mechanisms by which information is shared between babies’ and parents’ brains while they engage in social interaction.

The project is funded by a Research Project Grant from the Leverhulme Trust.

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