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Saturday, June 15
The Indiana Daily Student

academics & research

Researchers study how hand-eye skills affect child growth

Linda Smith and Chen Yu, professors in the Department of Psychological and Brain Sciences, are leading a new era of psychological experiments with the use of head cameras.

For the past several years, Yu and Smith have observed children and how their hand and eye movements are connected to early developmental skills.

Yu recruited parents with children ranging from 12- to 24-months-old to participate in an experiment. During a six minute session, both the parent and child wore cameras on their heads, which produced a view from the subject’s perspective.

During the sessions, children played with toys and interacted with their parents while researchers recorded their hand and eye movements.

“This really offers a new way to understand and teach joint attention skills,” Smith said in a release.

All of the data recorded from the sessions were then transferred into codes by other researchers who participated in the study.

Data will be sent to other researchers in Pittsburgh who are interested in the study. The data recorded in Bloomington will be applied to a new group of children and parents in Pittsburgh, and then sent back to IU to interpret and include in the main research study.

Smith said these experiments are the building blocks in understanding how sensory motor development affects the understanding of language and social reactions during crucial childhood development periods.

“If you don’t understand the building blocks, then we don’t know how to change the trajectory,” Smith said.

Ultimately, the study aims to show how to shift children’s developmental pathway so they can develop the basic skills they should learn at a young age.

According to the release, this could be beneficial in helping children with autism-spectrum disorders develop social skills that they typically have trouble learning. 

“Experiments like this are going to be the start of the change of assumptions of how we currently think babies see the world,” Smith said. “A lot of people are interested and are starting to join us, and it all started here at Indiana.”

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