My current research interests are primarily in infants' early development of the self, particularly the development of their understanding that they can affect their social and physical world through their own actions and, therefore, they are not helpless.  Such a sense of self agency is the beginning point of functioning as a social being and influences future personal constructs of how the world works.  My research program spans three specific areas.  First, I am interested in exploring how infants use the contingency present in normal social interactions with others and in play with objects to develop their sense of self agency, i.e., that they are effective agents in the world and can act on the social and physical environment with predictable outcomes.  This ability to process contingency happens within the first six months of life, possibly as early as two months of age.  Second, I am interested in examining how infants make use of others' interactions with them to learn about the complexities of language and play, both of which are symbolic systems that allow for expansions in communication and memory during the first two years of life.  Third, I am interested in the development of joint attention, the ability to attend to both a social partner and an object at the same time.  It is a hallmark in infant development because it indicates the emergence of intersubjectivity with the realization that self reality can be shared with others.  Beginning around six months of age infants may switch their gaze between their adult partner and an object, but sustained joint attention with active acknowledgement of the other's role in play is not achieved until the end of the first year of life.  

          In addition, I am exploring the benefits of early skin-to-skin contact between mothers and infants. There is about 30 years of research documenting the benefits of such contact for babies. Yet early mother-infant skin-to-skin contact also may be beneficial to mothers by reducing their stress and facilitating the mother-infant relationship. The latter would enhance infants’ social and cognitive development.

          For several years I studied the development of children born blind.  As a result of the many things these children taught me, I am also interested in studying how vision directs the development of perspective taking and spatial abilities in children from infancy through middle childhood.