Investigating word recognition in infants: ERPs are recorded for words matching or not matching the picture.
Investigating word recognition in infants: ERPs are recorded for words matching or not matching the picture.

Register Your Interest in the BabyLab

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 skillsTake a look at the Oxford CDI Tool and evaluate your own child's vocabulary development.

Selected publications

Research Overview

  • 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?

  • Word Recognition

    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?

  • Oxford CDI

    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

Associated Research

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:

Overseas collaborations

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.

UK Collaborations

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.

Recent Research Grants

Related research themes