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Cambridge Developing Cognition Lab.


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CDCL Director: Dr J. Russell

MA (Oxon), PhD (London), Reader in Cognitive Development
Fellow of Queens' College

Tel: 01223 333553


Current projects in the CDCL


Confused babyA. Future thinking and the development of imagination in young children. If you have a child aged between three-and-a-half and six-and-a-half years you can help us with this study (see below).

B. What do babies understand about other people’s goal directed actions? At what age are infants able to perform goal-directed actions themselves? If you have a baby aged between 5 and 24 months you may be able to help us answer these questions (see below). 

C. Episodic memory project (now complete - summary of findings to follow soon).

D. Why do young children think they are invisible when they shut their eyes? For a link to our work on this see Russell, Gee, and Bullard.


Volunteers wantedAiden's artwork

A: Future Thinking study: Here comes the train!

Calling all parents of 3.5- to 6.5-year-old children...

We are interested in learning about how and when children develop the ability to envisage events in the near future. We believe this ability is closely related to the ability to recall past events to mind (episodic memory). In the study a toy train travels around a track and passes by a wall with a little window through which children can gaze on to the track. The train is painted two different colours. Children are shown pictures and videos of the train passing the window and asked to select the one which shows what the train will look like when it eventually passes the window. We also test children on 5 further tasks which examine in turn (i) their understanding of the link between knowledge and sense modality (ii) understanding of temporal order markers in language (iii) their ability to mentally rotate objects (iv) the ability to think about conditional statements about future and past events and (v) receptive vocabulary. 

Will you be able to bring your child into the lab to help us with this study? We will give you £8 for your expenses and your child will receive a special CDCL t-shirt. Click here for more details.

B: Goal direction actions in infancy

Calling all parents of babies between 5 and 24 months...

We are running two studies looking at goal-directed actions in infancy.

Our first study is for 5-13 month olds, and deals with how babies of these ages understand other people’s "goal-directed" actions when these actions involve hidden objects. This study takes place on the Downing Site in central Cambridge, and lasts around 15 minutes. Your baby would be watching a short series of “hiding and finding events”, involving another person interacting with two toys. We will be measuring how much attention your infant pays to the events, as we try to use this measure to find out what babies think the other person is doing.

Our second study is for 12-24 month olds, and instead looks at infants' own goal-directed actions. We aim to start running this study in late October 2013. This study will take place in the Centre for Attention, Learning and Memory, which is part of the MRC-CBU on Chaucer Road. We want to see if infants at this age can learn to look in certain places on a computer screen in order to make the most fun stimuli appear. We hope that by exploring how infants control these eye-movements, we might learn about their control over their own actions in general.

To take part in either of these studies, please contact Richard O'Connor by email ( or by telephone (01223766315). 

C: Episodic Memory Project

This study is now complete. Thank you to all who helped!

Thank you to every one who helped with our 'fun in the jungle' study and our 'music box' study. We have submitted the findings of latter for publication and should be able to share those findings with you very soon once our manuscript has been accepted for publication. 

CDCL Personnel

Dr James Russell: , 01223-333553
Dr Patrick Burns: , 01223-764413
Richard O'Connor: , 01223-766315