New study explores world of babies

Wednesday, 25 November 2009


Researchers have set up a special Babylab with the latest eye tracker technology to explore how the language spoken around babies affects their understanding and ability to organise objects.

How babies learn to make sense of the world around them is the focus of a new study led by Oxford Brookes University.

Researchers have set up a special Babylab with the latest eye tracker technology to explore how the language spoken around babies affects their understanding and ability to organise objects.

Dr Gert Westermann, Reader in the Department of Psychology, explains:

“We know young babies can distinguish and categorize objects on the basis of what they look like – but when does it start to make a difference what they are called? How does language affect the way in which babies learn to organise the world around them?

“In infancy research there is quite a bit of discussion about how much knowledge is innate and if it is not, how it can be learned. Here we are trying to find out at what age babies learn to put together what they see with what they hear.

“With the Babylab eye tracker we’re at the cutting edge in infancy research at Oxford Brookes, and there are many ways in which this methodology can be exploited to learn more about how infants organise the world around them.”

The Oxford Brookes Babylab has recently been featured on BBC Oxford television and radio.

Dr Westermann has received £100,000 from the government funding body ESRC to carry out the project and hopes to study more than a hundred babies over the next 16 months.

The success of the project is entirely dependent on family participation and parents and babies are invited to visit the Babylab to find out more about the research at one of the coffee/cake play mornings every last Thursday of the month.

Anyone interested in participating can look at the project website which gives full details and information on how to get involved: www.brookes.ac.uk/babylab or email babylab@brookes.ac.uk