Cognitive development

Child pointing at a screen

We are interested in how thinking and reasoning abilities develop, and we run experimental studies with young children. Current projects include children's theory of mind from 3-7 years; children's understanding of the representational nature of words and pictures; the developmental relationship between reasoning and executive functions; children’s understanding of possibility and uncertainty, including handling ambiguity and counterfactual thinking. Members of the research team also have interests in adult cognition and neuropsychology. 

Our research addresses fundamental questions about the nature of children’s thinking and reasoning. For example, when are children able to think about future events that could turn out in different ways? When are children able to think or act strategically? When do children learn that predicting someone else’s behaviour requires us to take their point of view? It’s not enough to just assume that they know, think or want the same things as us!

The findings from this research help us understand the profound ways in which human children’s abilities are different from those of other animals, and how, over years of development, children’s thinking abilities become adult-like.


For more information about our research please contact us at: 

Dr Ian Apperly / Dr Sarah Beck 
School of Psychology 
University of Birmingham 
B15 2TT