East London boffins test eye-technology on babies

A fascinating study into how babies learn speech is being started with eye-tracking technology to establish if future learning and social behaviour can be detected—even before the child is six months old.

The eye-tracking technology is usually only used in university ‘baby labs.’

But this latest study by the University of East London is to be carried out at children’s centres across Tower Hamlets and neighbouring Newham, offering parents a chance to learn more about their baby’s development directly.

“One-in-10 children are affected by language difficulties by the time they start school,” said Prof Derek Moore, from the university’s Child Development research institute.

“Eye-tracking technology could help identify any weaknesses far earlier, because it lets us to explore how the baby responds to the mouth and eye movements of others before they are able to talk.”

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The eye-tracker—which looks like an ordinary computer monitor—can accurately track a baby’s eye movements while they watch video clips of speaking faces or moving objects. Parents can see exactly how their babies control their attention and how they decide what to look at.

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