Research visit to the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology in Leipzig

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As one of the lucky recipients of the LuCiD Travel Award, I was able to spend time at the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology in Leipzig (MPI), working as part of Mike Tomasello’s Child Lab. The main aim of my visit was to work with researchers from the Institute and benefit from their wealth of experience. As well as this, I wanted to conduct a project comparing children with Developmental Language Disorder (DLD) and typically developing children (TD) on verb-marking errors.

Working at a MPI is very special; the working environment and the facilities are outstanding. In addition, the building itself is very impressive. It’s made mostly of glass and the departments are connected to each other with “pending” lands through the main hall. My favourite place to work in the afternoon was the library, which has a very good view looking over the MPI pond, home to many animals including ducks and turtles.

During my stay at the MPI I learned a lot about many interesting studies people from the Department of Psychology are working on and I joined in their discussions during their weekly Social Cognition meetings. It was amazing to meet so many different researchers and to talk with them about their experiences. Some of them are regularly going to Africa to do similar experiments on social cognition with apes and others are testing children for global comparisons in Africa and South America.

The MPI is also such a well-organised Institute and I was able to benefit from all of the resources it has to offer. Apart from the wonderful library, I took part in a statistics workshop on using the statistical program R. This workshop gave me the opportunity to become familiar with R and learn how to use it for my data analysis. And this is just one of the many skills I can take with me to enhance my future work.

I also attended the Evaluation Day and Post Graduate Research day for the MPI, where the researchers presented their current work. I listened to many very interesting talks and went to lots of poster presentations afterwards, where I learnt more about the research being conducted at the MPI.

One of the many advantages of the MPI is its huge database, which was made available to me for recruiting participants for my study. Through the network of the MPI it was also possible to talk to Speech and Language therapists (SLT’s) about children with DLD. After I clarified the necessary criteria, I contacted nurseries and was able to recruit children from this group for my study.

Since this visit, I have been able to enter and analyse all the data I collected. I got some very interesting results, which I presented at the LuCiD conference in Lancaster in July 2017.

I’m so thankful to LuCiD for this travel award and for making this collaboration possible. It was a great opportunity, which I can strongly recommend to further applicants.


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