UEL study will take a fresh look at child development

Researchers at UEL have their eyes on the prize as they launch a ground-breaking study in the hope of learning more about child development.

They will be using eye-tracking technology to establish if potential language, social and attention weaknesses can be identified in babies as young as six months.

Bosses say the ability to predict weaknesses could help to increase equality in some of the UK’s most deprived areas.

The study, which is being carried out by researchers the University’s Stratford campus and has been dubbed “Take a Look Baby”, is the first of its kind.

It is being funded by the Nuffield Foundation and will sessions will take place at children’s centres across Newham and Tower Hamlets.

Professor Derek Moore, the study’s lead researcher, said: “An estimated one in ten of the UK’s children are affected by language difficulties by the time they start school.

“In the long-term eye-tracking technology could help to identify some of these weaknesses far earlier than is possible at the moment. This would help children to get the best possible start to their education.”

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The eye-tracker looks like any other computer screen but can track a baby’s eyes as it watches video clips of speaking faces and moving objects.

This allows researchers to show parents exactly how their babies control their attention, and how they decide what to look at.