A toddler playing with colourful toys in the BabyLab

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 opening, the Babylab has attracted more than £2m in research grants and has developed solid collaborations with Babylabs in prestigious universities, such as the University of Oxford and the University of Paris.
A toddler walking into the BabyLab at University of Plymouth
Parent and baby participating in the babylab
A smiling toddler being held by his mum after a visit to the BabyLab

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, and question things about life that you would never have questioned before.

Caroline FlocciaCaroline Floccia
Professor in Developmental Psychology

Our students

The Babylab is primarily run by students. Each year, two–four placement students work as research assistants supervised by our Babylab manager Ms Anna Caunt, and the Babylab Head Professor Caroline Floccia.
These students organise the recruitment and visits of 400 to 600 families per year, and are trained in using state-of-the-art methods in development psychology (eye tracking, head turn and tests).
In our video, Yas and Roxana talk about their experience working as research assistants in Babylab during their placement year.

The Babylab research is derived from the child development and child cognition fields of psychology. If this is an area we are interested in for our research project, we can use the Babylab facilities to expand on research knowledge, by carrying out our own projects.

Lauren – final year BSc (Hons) Psychology student

Students’ Studies

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 (or equivalent) trainees join the Babylab to benefit from its excellent learning environment.
Seeing up to 600 babies and infants a year, the students from the School of Psychology play a central role in running and designing these studies. Learning about the psychology of child development by interacting with babies and infants is a key component of our courses, and central to our approach of experiential learning.
Toddler stacking toys in the University of Plymouth Babylab
Close up of baby yawning in the Babylab
Student working at a computer screen in the Babylab

Our work: Hearing superpowers 

Professor Caroline Floccia examines why babies find it 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 sound 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. This example was first demonstrated by Werker and Tees in 1984 (Infant Behavior and Development).

Babies are born with the ability to hear all the different speech contrasts and all the different speech sounds found in the world. This is a very, very important ability because when a baby is born, they 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.

Caroline FlocciaCaroline Floccia
Professor in Developmental Psychology


Parents and families 

Thanks to parent’s support, we have up to 600 visits per year from children ages 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.

Babylab funders

Meet the team leaders