Donders Institute for Brain, Cognition and Behaviour
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Theme 2: Perception, Action and Control

Baby Research on Action, Interaction & Neurocognition

The BabyBRAIN lab studies the big questions of developmental science: Although babies seem to be born completely helpless, within little more than a year, they transform intoBabylabpic totally different creatures, who actively explore their environment, learn new skills at a breath-taking rate, and have meaningful interactions with others. How do these astonishing changes come about in such a short time?

In the BabyBRAIN group we combine theoretical approaches from cognitive science with empirical developmental psychology to understand the initial makeup of the human mind and how information processing and learning mechanisms drive the dramatic developmental changes we see during the early years.

We investigate early social and cognitive development and the developmental mechanisms and neurocognitive changes that underlie it. Using advanced research methods, such as eye tracking or measuring brain activity, we investigate for instance how infants learn new things by exploring their environment, or how they learn from and during interaction with others.

We also study how infants perceive other people and develop all capabilities necessary to become competent social partners. Moreover, we strive to understand non-typical development of young children, for instance as it occurs in autistic children.

Ultimately, our goal is to use our knowledge to stimulate the development of young children and to help create environments in which all children can develop optimally. This is why we regularly share our findings with parents, practitioners, policy makers and the general public.

Name: Sabine Hunnius
Telephone: 024-3612648
Visiting address: Donders Centre for Cognition
Thomas van Aquinostraat 4
6525 GD Nijmegen
The Netherlands
Postal address: Donders Centre for Cognition
P.O. Box 9104
6500 HE Nijmegen
The Netherlands
Key grants and prizes
  • 2020: NWO Vici grant, ‘Loving to learn: How curiosity drives cognitive development in young children’
  • 2019: Radboud Interfaculty cooperation grant: Baby & Child Research Center science communication and outreach
  • 2019: NWO Replication Studies: The building blocks of cognition: core debates in infancy research’
  • 2018: EU-H2020 Marie Sklodowska-Curie Innovative Training Network SAPIENS, ‘How early social exchanges tune critical brain functions in early childhood’
  • 2018: NWO Westerdijk Talent Impulse
  • 2017: EU-H2020 Marie Sklodowska-Curie Innovative Training Network MOTION, ‘Mobile Technology for Infant Social-Cognitive Neuroscience: Interdisciplinary Training Network for Innovative Infancy Research
Key publications
  • Hunnius, S. (2022) Early cognitive development: five lessons from infant learning. In Oxford Research Encyclopedia of Psychology (Eded. Braddick, O.) Oxford University Press.
  • Meyer, M., van Schaik, J. E., Poli, F., & Hunnius, S. (2022). How infant‐directed actions enhance infants’ attention, learning, and exploration: Evidence from EEG and computational modeling. Developmental Science, e13259.

  • Meyer, M., Lamers, D., Kayhan, E., Hunnius, S., & Oostenveld, R. (2021). Enhancing reproducibility in developmental EEG research: BIDS, cluster-based permutation tests, and effect sizes. Developmental Cognitive Neuroscience, 52, 101036.

  • Poli, F., Serino, G., Mars, R. B., & Hunnius, S. (2020). Infants tailor their attention to maximize learning. Science Advances, 6(39), eabb5053.


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Research Theme 2:
Perception, Action and Decision-making

Research Group
Baby Research on Action, Interaction & Neurocognition

Principal Investigator
Prof. S. Hunnius

Group members

Assistant professor
Marlene Meyer

Manon Krol

Eline de Boer
Klejda Fico
Tommaso Ghilardi
Anna-Sophie Immel
Olesya Moissenko
Francesco Poli
Jessica Ramos-Sanchez
Danaja Rutar
Joanna Rutkowska
Erik Verhaar

Outreach manager
Josje de Valk

Lab manager
Nicky Hogenkamp