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Birkbeck lecturer wins prestigious awards recognising his work in developmental psychology and cognitive neuroscience

The awards recognise Dr. Ori Ossmy for his broad and innovative catalogue of research and practical projects.

Dr Ossmy smiling with a child and a woman in the background also smiling

Dr Ori Ossmy, Lecturer in Birkbeck's Centre for Brain and Cognitive Development is the recipient of two highly regarded awards in recognition of his outstanding and innovative research. In July Dr Ossmy won the International Congress on Infant Studies (ICIS) Distinguished Early Career Contribution Award. In August, it was announced that Dr Ossmy would also be receiving the International Society for Developmental Psychobiology (ISDP) 2022 David Kucharski Young Investigator Award. A formal award ceremony, which will include an address by Dr Ossmy, will take place in November.

Though from different awarding bodies and societies, the selection and judging criteria for both awards were centered around candidates having a rich record of academic accomplishments and independent, significant, and sustained contributions to the field. With over 25 peer reviewed articles and a further 31 practical projects under his belt, Dr Ossmy's work focuses on problem solving in the context of human development.

Many traditional research practices in the field of developmental psychology involve giving an agent (such as a baby, toddler, adult, or robot) a problem to solve in the form of a simple task to do, recording whether they succeed in doing it, then repeating the process multiple times, to score their percentage of success and ascertain how that percentage improves with development. Dr Ossmy's projects, both at Birkbeck's ToddlerLab and beyond, focus instead on the process behind problem solving, rather than just the outcome.

Dr Ossmy commented: “My work focuses on capturing and analysing differences in the way subjects approach problem solving: how did they attempt to do a task and what can that tell us about how to aid their development? Failure or success in tasks set for subjects can stem from different causes. For example, someone might have problems with motor-control, while another might have cognitive difficulties. 

The research that Dr Ossmy undertakes uniquely integrates theory and practical methods drawn from fields such as cognitive development, neuroscience, and computer science. He makes use of cutting-edge technology, combining things like electroencephalography, functional magnetic resonance imaging, eye tracking, motion tracking, robotics and even virtual reality to help identify the processes behind problem-solving skills.  

A one size-fits all approach to development is not ideal, because individuals can take many different routes to get to the same outcome. There needs to be an understanding of these routes, because there is no one way to approach or solve the developmental issues of children or adults.” 

Dr Ossmy hopes that his ethos of identifying and analysing the processes behind neuro-divergence could have a profound impact on clinical and educational interventions for those with developmental issues.  

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