From learning to tie one’s shoes to perfecting the art of tango, observing and understanding others’ actions is critical to human success throughout development. Understanding what other people are doing when they act is foundational to the development of language, cognition, and culture, and it is essential to seamlessly interacting in the social world.
In my research, I recruit diverse methodological techniques and innovative paradigms in order to examine a central question in social-cognitive development: How do infants and young children come to learn about and from others' actions?
Across my work, I use a variety of behavioural and neuroimaging methods to address how babies and young children come to understand and interact with other humans. When we learn to tie our shoes, we learn more than just the mechanics of the action. We also learn about the goal of our sister’s action when she ties her shoes and, via comparison, the goal of our mother when she ties a bow in our sister’s hair. Understanding the goals underlying these basic actions is an important foundation for social, cognitive, and cultural development.