My broad research area is in perceptual and cognitive development in infancy and early childhood. I am director of the Goldsmiths InfantLab where we use a range of behavioural and physiological methods to study infant and child development. The specific research questions that I and my research group are addressing fall into three broad but related topic-areas:
As adults we integrate the multiple signals from our sense organs into unified functional representations of the world and ourselves. However, the senses provide information in different neural codes. Also the relationships between the senses vary substantially with movements of the body, like when the eyes move in their sockets or when the body changes shape as it grows during development. These considerations highlight the challenge of multisensory integration for the developing human. I have been investigating the development of our abilities to link and integration information across a range of senses, including vision, proprioception, touch and taste.
I am particularly interested in the development of the ability to represent spatial relationships within external frames of reference (objects in the environment), and also within intrinsic frames of reference such as the body (locating the body and limbs). The first of these issues has been a substantial focus of cognitive developmental research since Piaget's seminal observations in the 1930s, and I have addressed questions concerning infants' and young children's ability to represent the layout of objects across reorientation, and also the ability to represent and locate hidden objects once out of sight. On the other hand, the development of the ability to locate stimuli with respect to intrinsic frames of reference (e.g. the location of the limbs and stimuli impinging on the body) has been relatively neglected. My colleagues and I have recently been tackling this topic in the context of a large ERC-funded grant: “Human Embodied Multisensory Development” (2009-2014).
Our multisensory representations of objects and the spatial environment emerge in the context of our developing cognitive abilities. I have investigated a range of cognitive functions in early life, including object memory in early infancy, cognitive control in toddlerhood. More recently, with colleagues from the Department of Psychology at Goldsmiths, I have been tracing the development of visual-spatial attention in Western and remote cultures.