Meet our curious team!

Professor Gert Westermann

Gert is Professor of Psychology at Lancaster University. In his work he combine empirical approaches such as eye tracking of infants with computational modelling to build theories of cognitive change through development. One of his main research strands is the transition from preverbal to language-based cognition: to understand how children learn about the world before the onset of language at the end of the first year of life, and how language then shapes and enriches this early knowledge. He is also the Director of the Leverhulme Doctoral Scholarship Programme in Interdisciplinary Research on Infant Development. From 2016 to 2017 Gert was a British Academy/Leverhulme Trust Senior Research Fellow, working on a project entitled “Information selection in infants’ curiosity-based learning”.

Dr. Katie (Katherine) Twomey

Katie is a Lecturer in Language and Communicative Development at the University of Manchester. She is also an ESRC Future Research Leaders Fellow, and under this umbrella studies curiosity and early language acquisition. She uses computational and experimental methods to examine how young children can systematically explore their environments to maximise their learning. She has also worked at Lancaster University as a Senior Research Associate in the ESRC International Centre for Language and Communicative Development, and the University of Liverpool and University of Sussex researching children’s syntax acquisition and word learning.

Han Ke

Han is a Research Associate on the Curiosity project, and a 3rd-year PhD student of the Psychology department at Lancaster University.

Han’s PhD project explores the development of children’s cognitive ability in processing human bodies using EEG technology.Her roles in the Curiosity project include stimulus design and using the head-mounted eye tracking technology to test children.

Marina Loucaides

Marina Loucaides is a PhD student in the Leverhulme Doctoral Scholarship Programme for Interdisciplinary Research in Infancy at Lancaster University.

Marina’s PhD examines infants’ ability to enhance their learning through play from a very young age. Her research explores how infants use their eye gaze during play while hearing toys labelled, and examines whether physical interaction with a novel toy could facilitate word learning. In this work Marina uses cutting-edge head-mounted eyetracking technology (funded by a Leverhulme/British Academy Small Research Grant and an ESRC grant), allowing infants to move naturally while allowing us to measure exactly  where they look. This technology offers researchers the opportunity to study infant development in real-world environments.

Mikako Ishibashi

Mikako is a PhD student in the Psychology department at Ochanomizu University in Japan. She also studied for her MSc in Developmental Psychology at Lancaster University in 2016/17 under the supervision of Dr. Katie Twomey. 

Her research explores children’s scale errors – a phenomenon by which children of around 18 to 30 months will perform object-inappropriate actions on toys; for example, trying to get into a small toy car, or slide down a toy slide. Mikako’s research focuses on the mechanism behind children’s scale errors and the relationship between scale errors and other cognitive abilities such as language and pretend play. She uses observational study to explore whether children with and without scale errors differ in their object explorations through play, and also uses eye tracking methodology to explore the link between scale errors and other cognitive abilities such as language and category learning.