Former Max Planck Research Group Early Social Development

Infancy is the time of life during which enormous changes take place- the ‘helpless’ newborn seems almost a different creature from the inquisitive, walking and talking 2-year-old. During this formative life period, infants develop in an intensely social world filled with other people and one of the most important tasks they face is to develop skills that help them to interact with others and understand others’ social behavior.

In the Early Social Development Group we study the early emergence of the social and affective competencies that enable infants to interact with others. By using non-invasive and child-friendly methods such as electroencephalography (EEG), functional near-infrared spectroscopy (fNIRS) and eye-tracking technology, we examine changes in infant brain function while important social developmental milestones are achieved. We study these developmental processes across a range of situations in which infants can glean social and emotional information from various different sources such as faces, voices, or motion. Moreover, we aim to understand how social development varies across infants and what genetic and environmental factors give rise to such individual differences.

Our research program represents an integrated multi-method approach that will allow us to pool neural, genetic, and behavioral data concerning early social development, providing a unique window into the infant mind.

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