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Developmental Psychology: Infancy and Childhood

The overarching aim of this professorship for Developmental Psychology at the University of Zurich is to address the roots of action perception, and interpretation early in life. The understanding of others’ behaviour is one of the most fundamental skills in our everyday social life. It is crucial for any engagement in cooperative and communicative activities. In our research, we aim to explore the development of the (neuro-)cognitive mechanisms underlying action perception.

Our current research focus can be summarized by the following four research questions:

  1. What are the cognitive mechanisms underlying the perception and understanding of the intentional action of others?
  2. How are the perception of others’ actions and the production of own actions interrelated, and how does this interrelation develop across the life span?
  3. How are language and action related and how does the interrelation between verbal and non-verbal representations develop in childhood?
  4. How are a child’s spoken language or spoken languages related to the development of his or her development of social-cognitive and communicative skills? That is, how are the verbal and cognitive abilities of children growing up mono- or bilingually related, and what is the influence of the cultural background in which they grow up?

The research conducted in the developmental psychology unit uses a variety of different paradigms and methods such as measuring looking time and heart rate, the analysis of eye movements using an eye-tracking system, and the analysis of the imitation of observed actions. We furthermore examine action perception using neurophysiological measures such as EEG.

The PI of this research area is Prof. Dr. Moritz Daum.