Academic and research departmentsFaculty of Health and Medical Sciences, School of Psychology, Development, Education, Language and Outreach in Psychology (DevELOP) Research Group.
I am currently a postdoctoral researcher in the CoGDeV Lab on a project with Emily Farran and Camilla Gilmore. We are studying the relationship between Lego construction ability, spatial thinking, and numeracy achievement.
I'm passionate about methods for studying development, and how we can do better, more transparent, reproducible, and diverse science.
I spend my time between Surrey (where I work), London (where I live), and Preston (where my wife lives). So, the best place to find me is on a train. I enjoy walking in nature, watching trashy TV, and cooking.
Areas of specialism
infancy argued to be fundamental to joint attention and later
language. However, how gaze following emerges has been a topic
of great debate. The most widely-accepted developmental theories
suggest that infants are able to gaze follow only by understanding
shared attention. Another group of theories suggests that infants
may learn to follow gaze based on low-level social reinforcement.
Nagai et al. [Advanced Robotics, 20, 10 (2006)] successfully taught
a robot to gaze follow purely through social reinforcement, and
found that the robot learned to follow gaze in the horizontal plane
before it learned to follow gaze in the vertical plane. In the current
study, we tested whether 12-month-old infants were also better at
gaze following in the horizontal than the vertical plane. This
prediction does not follow from the predominant developmental
theories, which have no reason to assume differences between
infants? ability to follow gaze in the two planes. We found that
infants had higher accuracy when following gaze in the horizontal
than the vertical plane (p = .01). These results confirm a core
prediction of the robot model, suggesting that children may also
learn to gaze follow through reinforcement learning. This study
was pre-registered, and all data, code, and materials are openly
available on the Open Science Framework (https://osf.io/fqp8z/).
infants retained qualitatively different information about novel objects in communicative and
non-communicative contexts. In a communicative context, the infants encoded the identity of
novel objects at the expense of encoding their location, which was preferentially retained in noncommunicative
contexts. This result had not yet been replicated. Here we attempted two replications,
while also including a measure of eye-tracking to obtain more detail of infants? attention
allocation during stimulus presentation. Experiment 1 was designed following the
methods described in the original paper. After discussion with one of the original authors, some
key changes were made to the methodology in Experiment 2. Neither experiment replicated the
results of the original study, with Bayes Factor Analysis suggesting moderate support for the null
hypothesis. Both experiments found differential attention allocation in communicative and noncommunicative
contexts, with more looking to the face in communicative than non-communicative
contexts, and more looking to the hand in non-communicative than communicative
contexts. High and low level accounts of these attentional differences are discussed.
Among social cues, pedagogical communication has been shown to not only play a role in children's learning, but also in their own active transmission of knowledge.
Vredenburgh, Kushnir and Casasola, Developmental Science, 2015, 18, 645 showed that 2-year-olds are more likely to demonstrate an action to a naive adult
after learning it in a pedagogical than in a non-pedagogical context. This finding was
interpreted as evidence that pedagogically transmitted information has a special status
as culturally relevant. Here we test the limits of this claim by setting it in contrast
with an explanation in which the relevance of information is the outcome of multiple
interacting social (e.g., pedagogical demonstration) and non-social properties (e.g.,
action complexity). To test these competing hypotheses, we varied both pedagogical
cues and action complexity in an information transmission paradigm with 2-year-old
children. In Experiment 1, children preferentially transmitted simple non-pedagogically
demonstrated actions over pedagogically demonstrated more complex actions.
In Experiment 2, when both actions were matched for complexity, we found no evidence
of preferential transmission of pedagogically demonstrated actions. We discuss
possible reasons for the discrepancy between our results and previous literature
showing an effect of pedagogical cues on cultural transmission, and conclude that
our results are compatible with the view that pedagogical and other cues interact, but
incompatible with the theory of a privileged role for pedagogical cues.