ESR11: How differences in the earliest social interactions drive emerging cortical specialization. Supervisors: prof. Mark Johnson and dr. Sarah Lloyd-Fox (UCamb), site: UCamb, the UK.

Birth is one of the most critical periods for brain development. The relative monotony of mother’s womb is suddenly followed by a rich social environment, with faces and voices comprising a prominent part of new experiences. This first taste of the social world triggers rapid changes in brain functions over the first days, weeks and months of life.

I joined the SAPIENS network in October 2019 intending to investigate how the emergence of these new social experiences and interactions with other people relates to the development of brain mechanisms involved in the processing of social information. To reach this goal, as a part of the Cambridge Babylab team, I am conducting a longitudinal study on babies from the third trimester of pregnancy until the first five months of life. We use such neuroimaging techniques as Functional Near-Infrared Spectroscopy (fNIRS) and Electroencephalography (EEG) to track early brain development as well as a range of wearable and non-wearable devices to help us collect dense samples of infants’ social experiences.

Having graduated with a Master of Psychology from the University of Warsaw (Poland), I am currently pursuing a doctoral degree at the University of Cambridge (UK).