EISF – Edinburgh International Science Festival
Edinburgh Zoo, 3rd and 4th April 2017, 11am to 3pm
‘What makes us Human?’ The Living Links to Human Evolution Research Centre, which hosts primate researchers from across Scotland, is teaming up with the St Andrews Baby and Child Lab to create a family friendly event in which children can play games designed to study the origins of cognition – both from an evolutionary and developmental perspective. These are games that both children and non-human-primates have played in studies to reveal ways in which our thinking is similar to other primates, and ways in which it is different. Children find out how primates approach the same activities they try and parents can read about the science behind the fun!
Every year ABC lab attends the School of Physics and Astronomy’s Science Discovery Day. The event is very well attended, bringing audience from across Fife for a day full of activities and shows.
This year the event is to be held on the Saturday 4th of March from 10am –4pm.
Come along for a taster of the games the ABC lab play to understand how children think and learn as well as a chance to participate in some of our current research projects.
Would you and your child like to take part in a new study to help us to discover the roots of prosocial behaviour? The Baby and Child Lab is recruiting children between the ages of 4-5 years old and their parents for a study on culture and prosocial behaviour (i.e. helping, sharing and comforting). We have study sites located throughout Tayside, Fife, Lothian and Glasgow. Please contact us at email@example.com or 01334 462063 to make an appointment to take part.
See our flyer attached for more info.
Children took part in one of our latest research studies at Dundee Science Festival on Sunday 30 October. Families also got a chance to see fun research games in action and hear about the psychological principles behind these games.
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.