Although developmental psychology involves the entire lifespan, researchers mostly focus on the period in which changes follow each other fast, from birth to early adulthood. Many studies are devoted to children, their education and development. They explore topics such as children’s basic understanding of the physical world, how children acquire language, how learning behaviors develop, and how they interact socially with other people, for example in parent-child interaction studies.
Research tools for infant studies
The use of video greatly expands the scope of such a research project. That’s why numerous of researchers record video and use Viso® and The Observer® XT to capture infants' behaviors and reactions while they perform a task, are exposed to a novel object, are playing with a sibling or peer, or are having a meal.
Coding the videos, whether there are made at home or in a lab, enables you to review, visualize and analyze the behaviors quickly. Moreover, The Observer XT seamlessly integrates all your data streams.
Measuring infants’ facial expressions
Since young infants are unable to provide verbal feedback, their facial expressions can provide extra insights that help us to understand their emotional reactions. Baby FaceReader has been developed as a state of the art system to automatically detect infant facial expressions in order to help address questions in developmental psychology related to affect and developmental disorders such as Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD). It can help analyze expressive behavior occurring in naturalistic and experimental situations and during parent-child interactions.
Naturalistic observation of infant behavior
Research is often performed in observation labs. You can observe an infant unobtrusively and in a setting similar to their natural environment. In a controlled environment, you can accurately measure exploratory gaze behavior or emotional reactions.
In a home setting, researchers can use our portable lab, which includes equipment such as video cameras, recording and analysis software, or Pocket Observer, for scoring behavior on a handheld device. Some researchers use eye tracker data together with video recordings to capture the exact gaze of the infant.
Developmental disorders have a huge impact on someone's life. For example, children with ADHD or autism may have trouble concentrating in school, paying attention to others, and thinking things through. To find answers to their research questions, researchers often compare the behavior of typical development (TD) children to that of children with developmental disorders (DD).
Examples of developmental research
- The team of researcher Gangi examined prospectively infant gaze behavior at six, nine, and 12 months of age in infants who were later diagnosed with ASD, as well as low and high-risk infants without autism spectrum disorder outcomes.
- The Centre for Infant Cognition (CIC), at the University of British Columbia, in Vancouver, Canada, looked at minute eye gaze changes, hand gestures, and the emotions of infants while they observed a moral dilemma or social interaction, which was usually depicted in a puppet show.
- The iCare (Improving Children’s Auditory Rehabilitation) project is a network of young researchers working in the field of communication concerning children with hearing impairment.
White paper Autism Research
Research on Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) has increased enormously over the years, and has resulted in new understanding of how to set up different types of therapy, detect ASDs early in life, stimulate developmental processes, and so much more.
In this paper, we will describe how and why observational research methods are used in autism research worldwide and thus try to answer two questions: why should we observe behavior, and how can we observe behavior in a structured way?
A diverse collection of scientific articles citing Noldus products are published in renowned journals. The following list is only a small selection of scientific publications.
Don’t want to miss new blog posts? Stay up-to-date and subscribe now! You will receive updates of new blog posts every month.
- Bontinck, C.; Warreyn, P.; Demurie, E.; Bruyneel, E.; Boterberg, S. & Roeyers, H. (2018). Social Interactions Between 24-Month-Old Children and Their Older Sibling with Autism Spectrum Disorder: Characteristics and Association with Social-Communicative Development. Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders, 48 (12), 4118-4137. https://doi.org/10.1007/s10803-018-3660-4.
- Campbell, J.; Marcinowski, E.C.; Michel, G.F. (2017). The development of neuromotor skills and hand preference during infancy. Developmental Psychobiology. https://doi.org/10.1002/dev.21591.
- Leezenbaum, N.B.; Iverson, J.M. (2019). Trajectories of posture development in infants with and without familial risk for autism spectrum disorder. Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders, https://doi.org/10.1007/s10803-019-04048-3.
- Muesbeck, J.; St. John, B.M.; Kant, S. & Ausderau, K.K. (2018). Use of Props During Mealtime for Children With Autism Spectrum Disorders: Self-Regulation and Reinforcement. Occupational Therapy Journal of Research: Occupation, Participation and Health, 38 (4), 254-260.
- Nelson, E.L.; Gonzalez, S.L.; Coxe, S.; Campbell, J.M.; Marcinowski, E.C.; Michel, G.F. (2017). Toddler hand preference trajectories predict 3-year language outcome. Developmental Psychobiology, https://doi.org/10.1002/dev.21560.