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Discovering development: a glimpse into childhood research

10 March 2011

Every year thousands of babies are brought by their families to universities around the world to participate in research on human development.

Their first steps and first words help psychologists build a complete picture of social and cognitive development, informing parenting and education programmes as well as public policy.

Now, a new exhibition is showcasing the work of Development@Cardiff, a research group based in Cardiff University’s School of Psychology. As well as highlighting some of the group’s important projects, it will capture the babies and their families taking part in this valuable work.

Speaking about the event, Dr Merideth Gattis said: "This exhibition will give the public a glimpse into this area of research and how we are piecing together development in the first three years of a child’s life. Our studies are enjoyable for parents because they get an insight into the science of development. Our studies are also valuable scientifically, because of the insights they yield into early learning. Photographer David Sinden has captured both of those qualities beautifully.

"It’s also a way of thanking all of the parents that take part in our research. There is a saying that it takes a whole village to raise a child. Similarly, it takes a whole city to conduct research on child development. Our research depends on the commitment and involvement of families and organisations throughout the Cardiff area, including libraries, the NHS Cardiff and Vale Trust, Techniquest, and the Women’s Workshop. We are grateful that families and organisations share their time with us, and want to show them what it has yielded."

The Discovering Development documentary exhibition opens at Cardiff Central Library on the 11th of March, as part of the University’s Big Ideas programme which celebrates National Science and Engineering Week 2011.

Entry to the exhibition is free. For more information please visit

The Big Ideas programme runs throughout March giving people of all ages the change to get up-close and hands-on with Cardiff’s latest research.


Notes to editors

Cardiff School of Psychology
The School of Psychology is one of Britain top-rated schools of psychology, it being the first to achieve the double accolade of the highest grade of merit for both research and teaching. In an independent assessment of teaching, conducted by the Higher Education Funding Council for Wales it was rated ‘Excellent’. The School is one of the largest Schools of psychology in the United Kingdom. It currently has some 40 full-time teaching staff, including 12 professors, alongside 40 full-time research staff, and nearly 60 research students.

The School’s researchers are aligned with five focal areas:

Behavioural neuroscience (understanding the mechanism of learning and memory)
Cognitive ergonomics (human factors and human-computer interaction)

Cognition and neuropsychology (understanding how we see, hear, remember, solve problems, learn language, etc)

Personal relationships (in particular romantic relationships, family relationships, children peer interactions, and the elderly)

Social cognition (stereotyping, causal attribution, the self, intergroup relationships, and social influence)

Cardiff University

Cardiff University is recognised in independent government assessments as one of Britain’s leading teaching and research universities and is a member of the Russell Group of the UK’s most research intensive universities. Among its academic staff are two Nobel Laureates, including the winner of the 2007 Nobel Prize for Medicine, University President Professor Sir Martin Evans.

Founded by Royal Charter in 1883, today the University combines impressive modern facilities and a dynamic approach to teaching and research. The University’s breadth of expertise in research and research-led teaching encompasses: the humanities; the natural, physical, health, life and social sciences; engineering and technology; preparation for a wide range of professions; and a longstanding commitment to lifelong learning. Three major new Research Institutes, offering radical new approaches to neurosciences and mental health, cancer stem cells and sustainable places were announced by the University in 2010.

For further information

Victoria Dando

Public relations

Cardiff University

Tel: 02920 879074