Dr Merideth Gattis
Dr Merideth Gattis, a senior lecturer at the School of Psychology, talks of her research on cognitive development.
Dr Merideth Gattis
My Cardiff is full of babies – tiny-fingered, red-faced babies, big, fat, shiny babies, and babies growing into toddlers, constantly exploring and moving around. These babies are gifts, brought by parents from Cardiff and the surrounding area to the University to participate in our studies of child development.
Most of our studies last somewhere between 10 minutes and one hour, though we do have two studies that involve following individual babies over several months. These studies are fun because we get to watch the babies grow. Scientifically they are also extremely valuable, because tracking the development of individual babies gives us greater insight into how cognition develops.
I trained as a cognitive psychologist, and most of my early studies were conducted with adults. Toward the end of my PhD, my perspective shifted and led me to study the development of cognition. Now the majority of my research is conducted with babies, ranging from newborns to three-year-olds.
My goal at the University is to make every family in Cardiff aware of our studies, and to make it as easy as possible for them to participate. Many organisations and businesses in Cardiff provide valuable support for our research by posting notices about our studies, and welcoming us to speak with parents.
Sometimes we are even able to conduct studies in locations outside the University, as for instance when we conduct studies at Café Junior, The Gate Arts Centre, Techniquest, or in nurseries and schools around Cardiff.
Taking our studies into the community is one way that we can make study participation easier for parents. I would like to extend this even further by creating a mobile laboratory . This would allow us to bring sophisticated testing facilities to homes, and we could then test babies in well-controlled, consistent conditions, without requiring parents to come to the University. This would be particularly useful for our studies of newborn babies.
I am confident we will find a way to make this dream a reality, so keep your eyes open for the Cardiff University baby unit. We hope to be coming your way soon!
Merideth Gattis completed her BA at Gordon College, Massachusetts, and her PhD at University of California, Los Angeles, before joining the Max Planck Institute for Psychological Research in Munich, Germany as a postdoctoral researcher. Merideth moved to Cardiff in 2002. Her research group Development@Cardiff focuses on the development of sociocognitive abilities during infancy and early childhood.