Psychology experiments in the BabyLab

Babies: Their Wonderful World

Professor Caroline Floccia, Head of the Plymouth Babylab, is featured among the experts in the BBC series, Babies: Their Wonderful World. The series brought together over 200 babies and scientists from around the world in one of the most ambitious scientific studies about babies ever attempted. 

Hearing superpowers

Professor Floccia examines why babies find to so much easier than adults to pick up multiple languages, and demonstrates a test to see whether babies or adults are better at recognising different sounds from different languages, using sounds from Hindi. Adults struggle to detect differences, whereas the babies can hear them straight away, but this hearing superpower only lasts a short time and by the time they are 12 months old, babies can no longer detect such linguistic subtleties.

Professor Floccia says:

Babies are born with the ability to hear all the different speech contrasts, all the different speech sounds found in the world. This is a very, very important ability because when a baby is born it could be exposed to up to 6,000 different languages. The child needs to be prepared to learn any of those languages but by the end of the first year of life, babies start losing this ability.

Understanding babies' amazing abilities

The University of Plymouth Babylab works to improve our understanding of how babies develop their amazing abilities, and the problems they might encounter along the way. 

Students' studies

Seeing over 600 babies and infants a year, the students in the School of Psychology play a central role in running and designing these studies. Learning about the psychology of child development by studying and interacting with babies and infants is a key component of our courses, and central to our approach of experiential learning.

BSc (Hons) Psychology

Interested in how people think, act and interact? 

Discover how thoughts, feelings and motivations shape our behaviour. 

A hands-on approach to learning across social, developmental, clinical, cognitive psychology and neuroscience will provide you the skills relevant across a range of careers, from education and health to business and the media.

With hands-on learning in our psychology experiential learning lab, we embed practical activities throughout the course and encourage placement years providing valuable real-world experience.

Patient after traumatic events. Credit: KatarzynaBialasiewicz, courtesy of Getty Images
Power of mind concept. Credit:  primipil, courtesy of Getty Images.

MPsych (Hons) Advanced Psychology

With our flagship four year programme you'll stand out with a masters level qualification in advanced psychology tailored to your chosen career. 

Building on foundations of clinical, social, developmental, and cognitive psychology, the specialist advanced modules offered in the fourth year will put you on the ladder to your chosen career in professional psychology.

Guided research using our extensive range of specialist facilities and laboratories, including neuroimaging, observation, virtual reality, and the Plymouth Babylab, allow you to make an original contribution to your chosen area of specialism.

Cognitive Psychology

The range of possibilities for those studying a degree in Psychology is immense. You are going to discover things that you have never thought of.
Professor Caroline Floccia, Professor in Developmental Psychology.

Welcome to the University of Plymouth Babylab

The Babylab was opened in 2006 in the School of Psychology, and is one of its most vibrant and productive research labs. 

Since its opening, the Babylab has attracted more than £1.5m in research grants, and has developed solid collaborations with Babylabs in prestigious universities, such as the University of Oxford and the University of Paris.

Our students

The Babylab is run primarily by students. Each year 3 to 4 placement students work as research assistants, supervised by our Babylab Manager Ms Anna Caunt, the Babylab Head, Professor Caroline Floccia, and her Associate Head Dr Rana Abu-Zhaya. These students organise the recruitment and visits of 600 families per year, and are trained in using state-of-the-art methods in developmental psychology (eye tracking, head turn and tests). 

Each year, between 20 and 30 final year project students chose to do their project in the Babylab, together with postgraduate students (MSc and PhD). Regular Erasmus trainees join the Babylab to benefit from its excellent learning environment.

Parents and families

Thanks to parents' support, we have on average 600 visits per year from children aged 5 months to 5 years. We specialise in the study of language development, social development, and visual perception. Every visit is valued and we do all we can to make it a fun experience for both your little one and yourself.