Date Published: 28 July 2005

University of Manchester research into babies' perceptual development

Health News from Manchester, England (UK).
More news from or about Manchester.
See also books about Manchester.

As adults, perceiving common things around us is easy and automatic.

There has also been much research carried out over many years to enable scientists to understand perceptual processes in human adults. (See, for example, some of our the pages about visual perception.)

Research has also been carried out with the help of babies and young children - to establish how much then can perceive and how this evolves as they grow and develop. This is a fascinating area of research and can also be extremely important because it helps parents and other caregivers to recognise when children are developing normally. When any deviations from the normal range of development are found, checks can be made for underlying causes, some of which may be easily remedied if treated early.

Although scientists have made remarkable progress in understanding what babies can and cannot perceive and how this process develops during infancy, but there is still a lot to learn about how babies understand the world:
For babies the world is a complicated collection of sights, sounds and smells, and making sense of it isn't easy !

Researchers from the School of Psychological Sciences at the University of Manchester are currently carrying out studies in this area, and are looking for around 50 babies aged between 3 and 8 months of age to take part.

Dr. Sylvain Sirois is leading the research and said that:

" Research to date has indicated that an important change in brain function takes place in the first year of life, as control of behaviour shifts to the part of the brain which manages typically human abilities, the cortex.
_ We're looking to test the theory that the cortex only progressively starts to control babies' behaviour by looking at everything from their perceptual learning to their temperament.

The babies will be shown simple shapes on a video screen and given small objects to manipulate, with parents/caregivers remaining with them at all times. The parent/caregiver will then asked to complete some short questionnaires.

[Tests took place during August and September 2005.]

Source: Manchester University, England (UK)

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