Researchers featured on Channel 4 childhood behaviour programme
Dr Jackie Blissett and Dr Sissy Stefanidou were recently interviewed as part of the Born Naughty? Channel 4 programme.
Jackie (pictured right) discussed infants' acceptance of solid foods, noting that they are typically very willing to accept a wide variety of foods when they are first introduced. She added that they will still prefer sweet or fatty foods to bitter, low calorie foods, because the sweet and fatty foods are a good source of calories and are more pleasurable to eat. Infants often make negative facial expressions when they eat new foods, especially bitter or sour tasting foods. When parents introduce the first taste of spinach, for example, the baby may look as though she/he does not like the taste. Many parents will give up at this point and not offer the food again. However, Jackie noted that there are a number of studies that show that continuing to offer the infant such tastes, without pressure to eat, will usually lead to much greater acceptance of those tastes later in life.
Jackie's contribution featured a film clip in which a baby was introduced to a variety of tastes that she had never had before; this was her first experience with any food. You can see the slightly negative facial reaction to these foods (such as spinach) but you can also see that she continues to eat the offered foods.
Part of the programme presented and discussed emotional and behavioural difficulties in early childhood and how these may be associated with potential neurodevelopmental disorders, including Autism Spectrum Disorder.
Dr Stefanidou (pictured left) was interviewed by Dr Dawn Harper about early diagnosis of autism and discussed recent findings from the research programme in children with autism carried out in the Cerebra Centre for Neurodevelopmental Disorders and the Infant and Child lab at the School of Psychology, University of Birmingham. This research programme was funded by Autistica, an autism research charity in the UK, and aimed to further understanding of differences in brain functioning in children with autism and toddlers at risk of developing autism, which may be associated with core characteristics of the disorder, such as difficulties in communication and social interaction.