Individual and Small-group Projects
My research goal is to how talk
impacts on human development. How does exposure to living, moving
talking others enables us to become human? Is learning to talk
an extension of human action? Accordingly, I examine how the baby
uses caregiver dynamics as cognitive resources. Gradually, as
these change intrinsic motives, the baby becomes a talking person.
Most work has been done with healthy
infants. However, in collaboration with Jane Kvalsvig, I am examining
infant-caregiver dyads in the high-risk setting of Pemba, Tanzania.
We focus on how Iron Deficiency Anemia impacts on baby, caregiver,
and interaction and, of course, the condition’s developmental
Given an interest in mechanisms,
alongside the baby work I examine how children engage with robots
(with Takayuki Kanda) and, specifically, how gaze is used with
people and androids (with Karl MacDorman). This work has led us
to reconceptualise symbol grounding as the person problem. On
this view, engineers can build interfaces where language-in-interaction
facilitates the development of agency. By extension, we can explore
how exposure to languaging people changes infant cognition. Early
development becomes, above all, a matter of human symbol grounding.
At Hertfordshire, we focus on
interrelations between language and distributed cognition. While
some of this work concerns human-computer interaction, I am also
interested in how prosody achieves cognitive effects. Together
with Evie Fioratou, we are examining how classic problem solving
can be revisited from a distributed perspective. I am also editing
a book that explores how the rise of human cultural ecology favoured
the emergence of language.