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“Young children understand more than we thought”

26 April 2017

The Uppsala Child and Baby Lab conducts research on the psychological development of young children. The lab produces world-leading research that has changed our understanding of what a baby is and how people are shaped by their psychological development.

Gustaf Gredebäck, Professor of Developmental
Psychology. Photo: David Naylor

“Research shows that young children understand much more than previously thought,” says Gustaf Gredebäck, Professor of Developmental Psychology and Manager of Uppsala Child and Baby Lab. “Young children can, for example, understand and predict other people’s actions. And children have an early sense of helpfulness and they act based on that information.”

A number of research methods are used at the laboratory to study how children’s motor skills develop, how their social skills emerge and how cognitive development takes place. Cognition is a collective term for the human ability to learn, think and process information in the brain.

The research focuses on how small differences can affect a child’s development and how this development links in turn to various societal challenges, such as preventing future difficulties in learning mathematics, bullying or antisocial behaviour. The research also seeks answers on how children are affected by refugee flight and migration.

“This research is extremely important not only for handling some of the major societal challenges we are facing,” says Gredebäck, “but also for shaping a society that is adapted for young children. The overall theme of our research is to explore children’s ability to predict what will happen next and how small differences early in a child’s development have an impact later in life.”

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