Early development starts in the womb. Then we are born; spend our first few months in our parents’ arms; and gradually transition towards childcare, nursery or school. During this time we transition from co-regulatory control, shared between parent and infant, towards self-regulatory control, managed by the child alone. This project, which includes five PhDs funded by a Starter Grant from the European Research Council and one PhD funded by the UBEL DTP, uses new naturalistic home recordings and naturalistic neuroimaging data to study this transition. Click here to read more.
Recent research has suggested that interpersonal neural entrainment develops during social interaction. But how, mechanistically, is interpersonal neural entrainment developed, and maintained? This project, which included three PhDs funded by the Leverhulme Trust, aims to address this question by administering targeted experimental interventions to measure the effect the microdynamics of parent-child interaction. You can read more about it here.
Infants spend most of their waking time interacting with their caregivers, and the mechanisms through which these dynamic social exchanges shape the development of sub-personal processes such as attention and learning remain mysterious. This project is funded by a Marie Curie postdoctoral fellowship to Louise Goupil. It uses live dual EEG recordings from infants and adults to look at social influences during early learning exchanges. Click here to read more.
Everything that infants learn during early life comes from things that they pick up from their early environment. But how does infants’ sensitivity to information in their environment change and develop over time? This project is funded by an ESRC studentship to Katie Daubney and a PhD scholarship from the Turkish Government to Zeynep Suata. Click here to read more.
Clinically elevated levels of anxiety represent the most prevalent child mental health condition in the world. Available evidence suggests a key role of environmental influences in the development of anxiety, with recent research suggesting that early childhood is a crucial period for identifying environmental risk factors. This project, funded by a London Interdisciplinary Social Sciences PhD to Celia Smith, uses naturalistic biobehavioural recording techniques to examine the mechanisms of emotion dysregulation in dyads at elevated likelihood of anxiety conditions and other psychiatric disorders. Click here to read more.
In 1800 5% of the world’s children were raised in cities. Today, that figure is 55%. Children from the UK spend less time playing in natural places than previous generations and are less likely to have nature near their homes. Children from lower income households and ethnic minorities are least likely to visit natural environments. This project, which is funded by a studentship from the ESRC, in collaboration with Jan Dubiel and a partnership with Newham Learning, looks at how childrens’ learning, behaviour and stress levels might differ between indoor and outdoor learning environments. The project is led by Gemma Goldenberg. Click here to read more.
Almost all research looking at how stress affects early development has concentrated on static, time-invariant snapshots of stress – such as questionnaires, or ‘static snapshot’ measures such as cortisol or allostatic load. But stress is, by definition, a dynamical system that mediates adaptation to a fluctuating environment. In this project, funded by a grant from the Economic and Social Research Council, we used wireless miniatured wearable sensors and naturalistic neuroimaging to test how dynamical fluctuations in children’s early physical environment (sights and sounds) and social environment (people around them) affect neural activity, physiology and behaviour across multiple time-scales. Click here to read more.