At the Infant Cognition Project, we look closely at how infants and preschool aged children think about and understand the world around them. Specifically, we are interested in infants and young children’s understanding of the social world and behavior of other people.
Although it was once believed that babies were passive and only responded to the environment in reflexive ways, recent research demonstrates that they begin to actively interpret their world as soon as they are born.
The implications of understanding infant cognition are multi-faceted. Not only do parents benefit from a more in-depth knowledge of infants’ behavior but researchers, teachers, and toy manufacturers can also benefit from this understanding. Appreciating the ways in which babies understand their world aids in the development of new ways to study infants and investigate normal as well as abnormal development.
The majority of our studies use a habituation-dishabituation technique. The underlying principle is simple: we become bored when we are exposed to something in the environment over and over again. For this reason, when we see something new or unusual, we pay more attention to it. This is true for babies as well as adults. In our studies, we measure how long infants look at events and use their looking times as a measure of what they think about the event (i.e., what is old and familiar versus new and unusual).