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The Developmental Cognitive Science Lab is part of the Infancy and Early Development Group in the Department of Psychology at Lancaster University.

We study word learning, categorization, object learning, and intrinsic motivation/curiosity in early cognitive development through a combination of different methodologies.

In our empirical work we use eye tracking (Tobii X120 and infant and parent head-mounted eye trackers) to measure looking times, scan patterns, and pupil dilation; EEG/ERP to reveal neural processing signatures of information processing; and behavioural measures such as fast mapping tasks. Our labs are located in the Lancaster University Babylab.

Empirical research is complemented by computational modelling using artificial neural networks. Modelling is used to develop mechanistic accounts of behavioural development and adult behaviour.

Research areas

Curiosity-based learning

We study how infants explore their environment to learn from it based on intrinsic motivation, and we develop computational models of the underlying mechanisms of curiosity-driven information selection. See the Curiosity Project.

Word and object learning

We study how infants learn about objects in the world, how they integrate information from different sensory modalities to enrich their object representations, and how they learn to map objects to words. We are also interested in individual differences in word learning ability.

Categorization in infancy and adults

We are interested in how infants make use of multiple sources of information (visual appearance, sounds, labels) to form categories, and how emerging language shapes the structure of categories. We also study categorization in adults, specifically, how categories are represented in the brain and how bottom-up and top-down neural processes interact in object categorization.

 

Development and adult processing of verb inflections

Using neuroconstructivist computational models we explore how experience with a language environment shapes the neural processing structures supporting verb inflections.

Funding

Our work is funded by the ESRC, the Leverhulme Trust and the British Academy.