Supporting People With Physical & Learning Disabilities And Mental Health: Innovation & Research

Birkbeck University:

Birkbeck University’s Centre for Brain and Cognitive Development’s Toddler Tab was supported with a £250,000 donation for its construction, allowing researchers to study toddlers in their natural environment; the ToddlerLab will transform our understanding of neurodevelopmental conditions.

ToddlerLab will allow researchers to study toddlers as they engage in games and other everyday behaviours in their natural environment. The lab currently has four researchers working across a range of projects, collaborating with academics from the Netherlands and featured in a Canadian documentary on the development of friendship.

2022 saw 314 participants (baby, toddler and child) tested in both BabyLab and ToddlerLab.

One study underway is Professor Emily Jones, Dr Paola Pinti and Dr Chiara Bulgarelli, an “Empathy Study” which uses eye tracking, fNIRS and virtual reality to study the development of empathy in 3-5-year-olds. The aim of this project is to understand how the development of empathy facilitates social bond creation. Investigating the neural underpinnings of the development of empathy can illuminate the changes in the brain that underpin social behaviours.