Lancaster University

This is archived news from Lancaster University. You can find up-to-date stories in our current news section.

New Institute for Research in Human Development to be built at Lancaster

07/04/2002 11:38:44

A new Institute for Research in Human Development - the only one of its kind in the country - is to be built here at Lancaster University. Building will start in this Summer and the Institute will be ready for the beginning of 2003.

Researchers from the Psychology Department will have new and state-of-the art facilities in the Institute that will enable them to enhance yet further the internationally acclaimed research in infant and child development for which Lancaster has become renowned.

The new building will have purpose-built labs where, for example, research into infant visual and auditory perception will take place under sound proofed conditions. The development of spatial abilities and those relating to motor control (e.g., reaching and grasping) will be studied using specialist equipment that includes a head-free eye tracking system and another for registering limb movements in three dimensions.

A lab for observing social interactions and testing young children's cognitive development will be used primarily for the study of key abilities in the preschool and early school years. These include the development of planning in everyday tasks and tests for a 'theory of mind', which examine how children come to be able to predict and explain other people's actions. These abilities are major achievements in the preschool years and are notably delayed in children experiencing problems in development, particularly those with autism and Asperger's syndrome.

Local people who volunteer their children to take part in these sorts of studies are vital to the success of the research. Parents will be encouraged to be present during research involving their child and all studies will consist of activities that both infants and children enjoy doing.

Professor Brian Hopkins, Head of the Psychology Department explained:

"Due to the relatively settled population in the Lancaster area, we are able to track infants from soon after birth to pre-school age and beyond. This allows us to do longitudinal studies, which gives us a deeper understanding of human development".

Associated with the Institute's activities is a new taught MSc course in Developmental Psychology. Starting in October 2003, it will be offered on a full-time or part-time basis. There are only seven other such courses in the U.K. Applicants with a first degree in psychology or people with relevant training and interests in child development (e.g., nurses, physiotherapists, special educationalists, social workers) are invited to apply.

Further information about the course can be obtained from Professor Gavin Bremner (tel: 01524- 593821 or e-mail: ).