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We investigate language and cognitive development during infancy, with a particular emphasis on concept and vocabulary acquisition. We use eye-tracking, EEG and parental questionnaires to understand the mechanisms of change underlying infant development.
Founded in 1992
Dedicated facilities for infant research
Over 7500 infant participants
We study how infants learn to extract meaning from speech: How they learn to recognise words, learn new words and concepts, and identify how to use words to talk about and represent the world. Our studies involve age groups ranging from 6 months to 3 years. The Oxford University BabyLab was established in 1992, and is part of the Oxford Centre for Developmental Science.
Explore the babylab facilities
One of the first research facilities in the UK dedicated to infant research, we have recently moved to a new space, designed specifically to contain two state-of-the art remote eye trackers and our EEG system. Visit our reception and playrooms.
investigate your child's vocabulary
Since 1998, we have collected vocabulary information from parents of more than 5000 infants who participated in BabyLab studies. This first large-scale investigation into infants’ vocabulary development in the UK is currently the basis for several projects investigating the structure and dynamics of the infant lexicon, as well as predicting later literacy skills. Take a look at the Oxford CDI Tool and evaluate your own child's vocabulary development.
Categorisation in Infancy
In our studies on infant categorisation we address the perception of similarity and dissimilarity in the developing mind. One focus of our research in this area is the impact of labelling on category learning in preverbal infants: does hearing similar words for similar objects facilitate category formation?
How do infants process words they know? How is an infant’s mental lexicon organised?
Sleep and Language Development
Does sleep help infants integrate language experience, such as the meaning of a new word or how a word sounds in different local accents?
Language and Attention
How do words direct infants’ attention to objects, even when they are absent, such as hearing “cat” when they see a dog?
Communicative Development Inventories (CDIs) are tools for measuring vocabulary size and growth. We make use of parents' extensive experience with their own child to estimate vocabulary skills.
Current Research Grants
We collaborate with and receive visitors from all over the world. A full list of recent visitors and collaborations can be found here. Active and forthcoming collaborators are:
Vladimir Sloutsky at Ohio State University on an NSF funded project to investigate the impact of language on infant categorisations.
Julien Mayor at University of Geneva on a Swiss Research Foundation funded project conducting statistical modelling of CDIs and neural network modelling of learning word recognition and learning.
Caroline Floccia at the University of Plymouth on an ESRC funded project investigating the structure of the mental lexicon in infant bilinguals.
Kate Nation at Oxford University on the Nuffield Foundation Learning to Read Project evaluating whether the Oxford CDIs can be used to predict later literacy skills.