The Baby and Child Lab hosted it’s first Family Fun Day on 1st October and it was a resounding success. Over 65 families came along to find out about the games we play to understand how children think and learn and the sun shone throughout! Here are some pictures of the day!
BABY AND CHILD LAB FAMILY FUN DAY!
We are having a Family Fun Day on Saturday 1st October in St Mary’s Quad from 10.00am-2.00pm with a taster of the games we play to try to understand how children think and learn. There will be lots of fun activities, a bouncy castle and opportunities to participate in some of our current studies.
Baby and Child Lab, School of Psychology and
Neuroscience, St Mary’s Quad, South Street,
St Andrews, KY16 9JP
Cognition and tool use in children
Research has shown that between 24 months and 36 months of age, children’s physical problem solving is fragile. For example, we have found that children in this age group struggle in physical problem solving of tasks if they have to use a tool but can successfully solve the same task if they can use their hands. We are trying to find out how children learn to use tools to solve problems. Specifically, we are comparing learning from personal experience and learning from others’ demonstrations.
This research is being conducted in the University’s Baby and Child Lab, at Nibbles N’ Giggles in St Andrews and Dundee Science Centre. We are also going to be visiting nurseries across Fife in June.
Contact our Coordinator Geraldine if you want to be involved on 01334 462063
Principal Investigator: Dr Amanda Seed
Why are we doing it?
We are studying episodic memory, which is the kind of memory that allows us to reflect upon events we have experienced in the past. This kind of memory is thought to develop late in childhood, no earlier than the age of 4, and deteriorate early in later life. Its deterioration is also one of the earliest symptoms of Alzheimer’s Disease and other forms of dementia. It has been said also to be a uniquely human ability. We, as part of Emmie’s PhD, have been investigating episodic memory in 4-7 year old children, capuchin monkeys and chimpanzees. We’ve been using a kind of test that measures to what extent multiple pieces of information can be integrated together into one coherent memory.
When we began this experiment with preschool and primary school children, we expected that their performance on the task would improve as they got older and their cognitive abilities became more developed. Interestingly, we found the opposite effect: 4-year olds were very good at the task and older children performed more poorly. Previous research in the area has hinted that there is a shift in the way in which the brain receives and processes certain kinds of memory information between the ages of 5-13, so we would like to find out if that is what is happening in our experiment by testing children aged 11-16. If we find that 11-13 year olds still perform relatively poorly at the task but 13-16 year olds show considerable improvement, it is likely that we have found the same effect.
We will begin this study with Year 9 pupils (13-14 year olds) in St Leonards School in May 2015.
Click on the link to access the online consent form for this study. Please note you require a password to access this form.
We are recruiting children with and without Autism Spectrum Disorders between the ages of 4 and 15 for an experiment on ‘mental time travel’.
What is mental time travel?
This is the ability to mentally project oneself into to the past and future, in order to recollect past experiences and imagine future episodes.
What would my child be asked to do?
This study involves game-like tasks, using puzzle boxes and developmental tests of vocabulary and verbal skills. The testing will last about half an hour and we will provide you with refreshments, a small travel reimbursement and a gift!
How can we participate?
Testing of children for this project will take place from the beginning of February until the end of May in the Baby and Child Lab. Please contact Geraldine on 01334 462063 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Here is some feedback from families that took part:
‘Thanks very much for today, my son says he had a fantastic day and was very impressed with the tour of the building’
‘My son isn’t a young man of many words, but he had mentioned to his guidance teacher about his day! We all left and had a couple of hours on the beach then a half hour at the park.’
More information can be found on the Scottish Autism website
We are currently testing children aged between two and three in the soft play and café Nibbles n’ Giggles in St Andrews and in the Science Centre in Dundee. The children are being tested as part of a study called Cognitive Development and Tool Use examining physical problem solving within this age range.
We are also currently testing 3-7 year olds as part of a study entitled ‘Did I do That’ looking at how children develop accurate memories for new actions learned when working with other people.
A study is about to be launched investigating the ability of children with Autism Spectrum Disorders to “mentally time-travel”, i.e. the ability to reflect on a past event (episodic memory) or to imagine a future one (future thinking). Testing of children for this project will take place from the beginning of February until the end of May in the Baby and Child Lab.
If you would like more information about any of the above research or wish your child to take part please get in touch here.
More information about our current studies can be found here on our website under Our Research.