Gert Westermann Website

Gert Westermann

Professor of Psychology

A bit about Gert Westermann

I studied Computer Science, Linguistics and Psychology in Braunschweig, Germany and Austin, TX, before combining all three in a PhD in Cognitive Science from the University of Edinburgh. I then worked as a Researcher for the Sony Computer Science Lab in Paris before joining the School of Psychology at Birkbeck, London, as a Research Fellow. He subsequently moved to Oxford Brookes University as a Lecturer and became Professor of Psychology in 2009. In 2011 I moved to Lancaster University. From January to July 2013 I was a Lichtenberg Fellow at the University of Göttingen, Germany.

My research is mainly concerned with early cognitive and language development but also with the question of how development shapes cognitive processing in adults. In my work I combine empirical approaches such as eye tracking of infants with computational modelling to build theories of cognitive change through development. 

My Role in LuCiD

In LuCiD I lead a research project in which Katie Twomey and I study the transition from preverbal to language-based cognition. Specifically, we are interested in how linguistic knowledge is integrated with what infants know before they learn language. This project is multidisciplinary and combines experimental work with infants with computational modelling. We use empirical work to better understand how variability in a learning environment affects the learning of objects and names for these objects, and what effect linguistic knowledge has on the processing of objects. We use computational modelling to develop precise theories of how learning proceeds and how object and linguistic knowledge are integrated by the infants.

LuCiD publications (22) by Gert Westermann

Taylor, G., Monaghan, P., & Westermann, G. (2017). Investigating the association between children’s screen media exposure and vocabulary size in the UK. Journal of Children and Media.

Twomey, K. E., & Westermann, G. (in press). (2017). Curiosity-based learning in infants: A neurocomputational approach. Developmental Science.

Twomey, K. E., Ma, L., & Westermann, G. (2017). All the Right Noises: Background Variability Helps Early Word Learning Cognitive Science. https://doi.org/10.1111/cogs.12539

Twomey, K. E. & Westermann, G. (in press). (2017). Learned labels shape pre-speech infants’ object representations. Infancy.

Twomey, K. E., & Westermann, G. (2016). A learned label modulates object representations in 10-month-old infants. In Papafragou, A., Grodner, D., Mirman, D., & Trueswell, J.C. (Eds.) (2016). Proceedings of the 38th Annual Conference of the Cognitive Science Society. Austin, TX: Cognitive Science Society.

Twomey, K. E., Westermann, G., Oudeyer, P.-Y., & Yu, C. (2016). Understanding infants’ curiosity-based learning: empirical and computational approaches. Symposium presented at the XX Biennial International Conference on Infant Studies New Orleans, LA, USA.

Hilton, M., Twomey, K. E., & Westermann, G. (2016). Caregivers as experimenters: Reducing unfamiliarity helps shy children learn words. Paper presented at the XX Biennial International Conference on Infant Studies, New Orleans, LA, USA.

Loucaides, M., Twomey, K. E., & Westermann, G. (2016). The effect of labelling on infants’ object exploration. Poster presented at the 1st Lancaster Conference on Infant & Child Development, Lancaster, UK.

Westermann, G. & Twomey, K. E (2016). A computational model of infants’ curiosity-based learning. In Twomey, K. E., (chair) Understanding Infants’ Curiosity-Based Learning: Empirical and Computational Approaches. Symposium presented at the XX Biennial International Conference on Infant Studies, New Orleans, LA, USA. DOI: 10.13140/RG.2.1.3821.5288

Twomey, K. E., Malem, B. & Westermann, G. (2016). Infants’ information seeking in a category learning task. (chair) Understanding Infants’ Curiosity-Based Learning: Empirical and Computational Approaches. Symposium presented at the XX Biennial International Conference on Infant Studies, New Orleans, LA, USA.

Ní Choisdealbha, Á., Westermann, G., Dunn, K. and Reid, V. (2016). Dissociating associative and motor aspects of action understanding: Processing of dual-ended tools by 16-month-old infants. British Journal of Developmental Psychology, 34: 115–131.

Hilton, M., Twomey, K. E. and Westermann, G. (2016). FaceTime: Shy children’s increased attention to faces and its effect on word learning. Paper presented at the 1st Lancaster Conference on Infant & Child Development, Lancaster, UK.

Twomey, K. E. & Westermann, G. (2016). Learned labels shape prelinguistic infants’ object representations. Paper presented at the 1st Lancaster Conference on Infant & Child Development, Lancaster, UK. DOI: 10.13140/RG.2.2.22396.13442

Ma, S., Twomey, K. E., & Westermann, G. (2016). The effect of background variability on referent selection in fast mapping tasks: Evidence from eye movements. Poster presented at the XX Biennial International Conference on Infant Studies, New Orleans, LA, USA. DOI: 10.13140/RG.2.2.20877.33763

Twomey, K. E., Smith, A., Monaghan, P. & Westermann, G. (2016). Neurocomputational Models of Cognitive Development and Processing: Proceedings of the 14th Neural Computation and Psychology Workshop (NCPW). World Scientific. Trends in Psychology and Artificial Intelligence. Hershey, PA: Information Science Reference.

Capelier-Mourguy, A., Twomey, K. E., Kovic, V. & Westermann, G. (2016). Categories with Mismatching Feature Salience and Diagnosticity: How a Label Helps Learning. Poster presented at the 15th Neural Computation and Psychology Workshop. Phliadelphia, USA.

Capelier-Mourguy, A., Twomey, K. E. & Westermann, G. (2016). A neurocomputational model of the effect of learned labels on infants’ object representations. Paper presented at the 38th Annual Cognitive Science Society Meeting. Philadelphia, USA.

Frost, R., Twomey, K. E., Taylor, G., Westermann, G. and Monaghan P. (2015). Word for word. Nursery World Magazine, 27 July, 21-23

Twomey, K. E., & Westermann, G. (2015). Curiosity optimises learning in a simulated infant categorisation task. Paper presented at the British Psychological Society Developmental and Social Section Annual Conference, Manchester, UK.

Twomey, K. E., & Westermann, G. (2015). A neural network model of curiosity-driven infant categorization. Paper presented at the Fifth Joint IEEE International Conference on Development and Learning and on Epigenetic Robotics, Brown University, USA.

Hilton, M. and Westermann, G. (2015). Shyness affects word learning: evidence from eye-tracking. Poster presented at The Society for Research in Child Development (SRCD) 2015 Biennial Meeting. Philadelphia, USA.

Westermann, G. and Twomey, K. (2014). Some thoughts on curiosity in infants and neural network models. Paper presented at the 1st Interdisciplinary Symposium on Information-Seeking, Curiosity and Attention (Neurocuriosity 2014). Bordeaux, France

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