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Stepping into the world: how does locomotion broaden cognition?

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  • Full or part time
    Dr JS Herbert
  • Application Deadline
    Applications accepted all year round

Project Description

As infants develop the ability to explore the world on their own, there are changes in their social, emotional, and cognitive skills (for a review, see Campos et al., 2000). My previous research has previously shown that only infants who have begun crawling are able to recall their memories when they are tested in a new location with a similar (but not identical) stimulus to the one seen before. In other words, crawling infants showed more advanced memory abilities. This ability to use previous experience to guide behaviour in new situations is one of the most important functions of memory. The next steps in this research programme will be to expand the range of tasks that can be used to assess early memory abilities and to look at how a wider range of motoric developments (e.g., rolling over, belly crawling, hands and knees crawling, walking) might impact on the child’s interactions with the world and their cognitive abilities. This project will provide important normative data about the relationship between motoric and cognitive abilities using cross-sectional and longitudinal designs. This project will provide a PhD student with the opportunity to examine early cognitive development while also developing expertise in deferred imitation, observational methods, and developmental questionnaires. There will be further opportunities for the PhD student to develop this research topic to study cognitive development and quality of life in children with neurodevelopmental conditions which delay or preclude independent mobility.

Funding Notes

Requirements: We ask for a good honours degree of 2:1 or above and generally a masters or pending masters (merit or distinction) in Psychology or a related discipline.


Campos, J. J., Anderson, D. I., Bardu-Roth, M. A., Hubbard, E. M., Hertenstein, M. J. & Witherington, D. (2000). Travel Broadens the Mind. Infancy, 1, 149-219.
Hendrix, R. R. and Thompson, R. A. (2011), Development of self-produced locomotion in the first year: changes in parent perceptions and infant behaviour. Infant and Child Development, 20, 288–300.
Herbert, J., Gross, J. & Hayne, H. (2007). Crawling is Associated with More Flexible Memory Retrival by 9-Month-Old Infants. Developmental Science, 10, 183-189.
Lynch, A., Ryu, J-C. Agrawal, S., & Galloway, J.C. (2009). Power mobility training for a 7-month-old infant with spina bifida. Pediatric Physical Therapy, 21, 362-368.

Related Subjects

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FTE Category A staff submitted: 34.45

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