NTU Early Cognitive Lab in KidsSTOP Science Centre Singapore

[Media Invite & Programme Highlight]

Have you ever wonder how your babies and/or toddlers make sense of the world around them? Do they see animals like we do, and see objects like we do?

These are some of the questions that a new research programme on early childhood learning by Nanyang Technological University (NTU) are trying to answer. The studies will provide insights into whether children are born with early abstract expectations or whether they learn through socialization. An on-site research facility, Early Cognitive Lab, will be set up at KidsSTOPTM, conducting a series of experiments over five years starting on 11 August.

Different experiments will be created for different age groups. The first two experiments which start this August and last for a year tests children between two to four years old on their notion of fairness.  The child, accompanied by his/her parent, will interact with two puppets by distributing items between them.  The process will be video-recorded and analysed afterwards on how the child distributes the items, whether equally or unequally. It will help to shed light on early reasoning about fairness and group loyalty.

The other experiment targets children one to three years of age. The child will watch videos on social acting. For example, a person disguises her true feelings by saying that she likes the cookie given to her by her friend, even though she dislikes it. The child’s reaction is monitored, and compared with the reactions of another group of children who will see social acting towards an outgroup member as a stranger.

By tracking the child’s eye movement as he/she watches these videos, the researchers can tell which part of the scene they are paying attention to and their expectations about various social scenarios.

The research programme is led by NTU psychology Assistant Professor Setoh Pei Pei who heads the university’s Early Cognitive Lab.

“This research aims to improve our understanding of moral and prosocial behaviour in infants and toddlers. While such studies are common in the United States, studies in the Asian context are relatively fewer. To fill this gap, the NTU team will carry out a series of research projects targeted at children from 3months to six years old

I hope to share with parents what their babies are thinking about, as well as knowledge about the cognitive, social and moral development of their children. The results will also allow early childhood educators to develop better learning programmes for children.”

The NTU’s Early Cognitive Lab located at KidsSTOPTM will be open from 2 to 6pm daily, and on weekends, additional hours from 9.30am to 1.30pm.  If you are interested to participate, please contact babylab@ntu.edu.sg before visiting the Lab.  All participants will enjoy free admission to KidsSTOPTM and KidsSTOPTM members will receive a token of appreciation for their participation.  All participants’ responses will be kept confidential. At the end of a study, participants will receive the research findings through email.  


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