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MOTION (Mobile technology for infant social-cognitive neuroscience: interdisciplinary training)

Project overview

Recent international reports emphasise that the first three years of children's life have more impact on their future outcomes than any other period during life. It is therefore essential that we have a thorough understanding of early social and cognitive development.

In the past, experimental research that has fed our knowledge on early development studied infants within restricted, artificial laboratory contexts. However, only by studying children who are actively engaging in natural interaction with their social and physical environment, can we acquire ecologically valid, robust information about their social and cognitive development.

It is thus essential to move experimental infancy research towards more natural situations. In doing so, MOTION will train a new generation of highly-skilled experts in the field of early development. New advances in wearable and wireless technologies now provide us with a unique opportunity. We are able to literally "unleash" the children we study – to free them from cables and constraints associated with the previous research methods.

The Birkbeck project leads for this project are Professor Denis Mareschal and Professor Rick Cooper and it has been funded by EU Horizon 2020 under the Marie Sklodowska-Curie scheme.

Research aims

  • The primary scientific aim of the MOTION project thus is to leverage these new technological advances to study infants' and toddlers' body movements, gaze direction, and brain activity as they spontaneously and actively explore the world around them.
  • MOTION will develop, produce and commercialise new tools to study early development in close cooperation between industry and academic partners. Innovative research tools will be used to investigate infants in natural interaction with their social and physical environment and gain a deeper understanding of early development.

Outputs and outcomes

In addition to disseminating the new tools and research findings among the scientific community, it is the explicit aim of MOTION to reach out to professionals and the public, educate them about early development and instigate an open dialogue between professionals working with young children and developmental researchers.