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UL Lafayette's Center for Child Studies is looking for children under the age of ten to assist with child development studies.

Have you ever wondered how children learn, think and remember? Well, educators, caregivers, policy makers, and scientists do. These are among the questions being addressed through research at the Center for Child Studies on the UL Lafayette campus.

Study participation involves one short visit to the Center. The studies underway include the following:

• Joint Visual Attention. In our daily social interactions, we often follow the gaze or pointing gestures of another person, often times without even realizing it. During early childhood, this skill develops in order to share interesting events in the environment; scientists call this Joint Visual Attention. Joint attention plays a crucial role in children's acquisition of language, and in learning what things in the world are safe or harmful. The Center is beginning a study that asks if children remember the pointing gesture of another person better than some other things that may illicit their interest, like for example, blinking lights? Parents with children that are 11, 12, and 13-months old, and children that are 23, 24, and 25 months old are being sought. From this study, we hope to better understand how children remember another person's direction of attention.

• Cognitive Imitation. How and under what circumstances do children learn from models? Can children learn from a computer model as readily as from a human model? Or, do they learn better by watching a model make mistakes, and inferring the correct answers? - critical questions during this age of technology. In this study, we are seeking 2, 3-, and 4-year old children. A game is set up on a computer for children to touch pictures on its touch-sensitive screen in a specific order. Children can discover the order of pictures one of two ways: by trial and error, or by observing a model - either by an adult or a computer doing so correctly, or by watching an adult make mistakes. From this study, we hope to better understand how children learn from imitation.

• Spatial Memory. When remembering where we put our wallets, letters and other objects, we might remember some environmental landmarks like a cabinet drawer or coat pocket. During early childhood, this skill develops with age. Researchers are studying if children can use another person's “left/right” or “Front-side/Back-side” as landmarks to remember the location of an object. To do so, the Center is seeking children that are between the ages of 3 and 9 to play a game where a researcher, holding two containers, one which has a prize that the child just saw being placed. In some instances, the researcher will turn in front of the children. In other instances, the researcher will turn out of view of the children, hidden behind screen. From this study, we hope to better understand how children remember the location of things.

Typically, children who are enrolled in the program and who are eligible for a particular study based upon their age will be contacted only once or twice per year. An individual appointment will be made that suits the participant's schedule including evening appointments.

Each visit to the Center lasts about 30-45 minutes and all of the studies are structured as games for kids. Their time at the Center is filled with activities and since there is only one child at the Center at a time, this child will get an abundance of positive attention while they help researchers discover the way they think, learn, remember and solve problems.

Once the study has been completed, parents of the children who participated will be mailed a letter that summarizes study findings and its implications to the field of child development. Names of the children are confidential.

Principal Investigators compile the findings of the studies into journal articles for submission to such prominent journals as Child Development and Developmental Psychology.

Sometimes these studies find their way into parenting magazines and television programs like PBS, Nova and National Geographic. This way, other scientists, educators, policy makers, caregivers and parents learn more about young children and the ways in which their minds develop.

To sign up or for more information, call 482-5180.