Our Research Methods

How do we study babies and young children?

Head Mounted Eye Tracking

Head mounted eye trackers allow us to explore infants’ and toddlers’ eye gaze during active play with novel objects.

Eye Tracking

An eye tracker is a camera that lets us see where on a computer screen or a live scene your baby is looking. Babies like to watch novel and surprising pictures and events. By analysing their eye movements, we can understand how they make sense of the world around them.

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This method allows us to safely measure blood-oxygenation levels in the brain using infrared light. It is ideal for infant testing because it is quiet, non-invasive, and resilient to movement. It is mainly used for localising specific areas of brain activation during cognitive processing. 


As our brains work, they send off little waves of electricity. If we measure these waves, we can find out what is happening in the brain. EEG is a method we use to do this. We have caps with built in sensors for measuring these waves. They are covered in sponges and arranged in a net that stretches comfortably to fit a baby’s head. With this method, we can see what patterns of brain activity occur when a baby is learning about words, objects or actions.

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Motion Capture

This method is used to record the movement of babies. This way we are able to see how babies plan and reach for objects of varying size or weight.

Behaviour Observation

We design studies that are like playing a game with your baby, and we observe how they respond or interact with the experimenter. Sessions can be recorded for later analysis.

4D Ultrasound Imaging

The 4D scans will measure detailed face reactions to both shapes of light and sounds. With the use of 4D ultrasound the 3D image is continuously updated, which consequently becomes amoving image, like watching a movie.

Facial EMG

EMG technique measures muscle activity by detecting and amplifying the tiny electrical impulses that are generated by muscle fibers when they contract. It primarily focuses on two major muscle groups in the face, the which are associated with frowning and smiling.

Head & Eye Tracking (Smart Eye)

This multi-camera system allows 90- to 360-degree head and eye tracking. We can understand where babies look at and where their head is located in space. Free and wide placement of cameras makes it ideal for many environments. 


Journal articles


Auditory information for spatial location and pitch-height correspondence support young infants’ perception of object persistence. Tham, D.S.Y., Rees, A., Bremner, J.G., Slater, A., & Johnson, S. (in press). Journal of Experimental Child Psychology.

All the Right Noises: Background Variability Helps Early Word Learning
Twomey, K.E., Ma, S., Westermann, G. 05/2018 In: Cognitive Science. 42, Suppl. 2, p. 413-438. 26 p.

Do Children with Autism Spectrum Disorder Share Fairly and Reciprocally? Hartley, C.K., Fisher, S. 6/03/2018 In: Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders. 13 p.

Mine is better than yours: Investigating the ownership effect in children with autism spectrum disorder and typically developing children
Hartley, C.K., Fisher, S. 03/2018 In: Cognition. 172, p. 26-36. 11 p.

From altered synaptic plasticity to atypical learning: a computational model of Down syndrome
Tovar Y Romo, A.E., Westermann, G., Torres, A. 02/2018 In: Cognition. 171, p. 15-24. 10 p.

Newborns are sensitive to the correspondence between auditory pitch and visuospatial elevation
Walker, P., Bremner, J.G., Lunghi, M., Dolscheid, S., Dalla Barba, B., Simion, F. 22/01/2018 In: Developmental Psychobiology. 60, 2, p. 216-223. 8 p.

Learned labels shape pre-speech infants’ object representations
Twomey, K.E., Westermann, G. 01/2018 In: Infancy. 23, 1, p. 61-73. 13 p.