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Dr. Brooks is a Research Assistant Professor in the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences and has her laboratory studying infant joint visual attention at I-LABS. She received her BA from Pomona College and her Ph.D. from Boston University. Her main line of research centers on joint visual attention, including eye gaze, joint engagement, and pointing. She has been examining the development of these important social cues in infancy and the attributions infants make about others’ perceptions and goals. She is also interested in how early social cognition contributes to the understanding of language and theory of mind in children with typical and atypical development.
1999 Ph.D., Psychology, Boston University, Boston, MA
1988 BA, Psychology, Pomona College, Claremont, CA
2010: Reviewer for the 2011 Society for Research in Child Development Biennial Meeting.
2007-present: Advisory Board Member for Behavioral Science Core, Center on Human Development and Disability, University of Washington
2007: Ad Hoc Grant Reviewer for the National Science Foundation
2005-present: Coordinator for the I-LABS Roundtable, University of Washington
2004-present: Ad Hoc Reviewer (year started) for Developmental Review (2010), Journal of Experimental Child Psychology (2008), Cognitive Development (2007), British Journal of Developmental Psychology (2006), Child Development (2006), Developmental Science (2006), Infancy (2005), Psychological Science (2005), Developmental Psychology (2004)
2004 Fall: Future Faculty Fellow, Howard Hughes Medical Institute Undergraduate Education Grant & Department of Biology, University of Washington
Meltzoff, A. N., Brooks, R., Shon, A. P., & Rao, R. P. N. (2010). “Social” robots are psychological agents for infants: A test of gaze following. Neural Networks, 23, 966-972.
Meltzoff, A. N. & Brooks, R. (2008). Self-experience as a mechanism for learning about others: A training study in social cognition. Developmental Psychology, 44, 1257-1265.
Brooks, R. & Meltzoff, A. N. (2008). Infant gaze following and pointing predict accelerated vocabulary growth through two years of age: A longitudinal, growth curve modeling study. Journal of Child Language, 35, 207-220.
Brooks, R. & Meltzoff, A. N. (2005). The development of gaze following and its relation to language. Developmental Science, 8, 535-543.
Brooks, R. & Meltzoff, A. N. (2002). The importance of eyes: How infants interpret adult looking behavior. Developmental Psychology, 38, 958-966.
Caron, A. J., Butler, S. C., & Brooks, R. (2002). Gaze following at 12 and 14 months: Do the eyes matter? British Journal of Developmental Psychology, 20, 225-239.
Butler, S. C., Caron, A. J., & Brooks, R. (2000). Infant understanding of the referential nature of looking. Journal of Cognition and Development, 1, 359-377.
Galler, J. R., Ramsey, F. C., Harrison, R. H., Brooks, R., & Weiskopf-Bock, S. (1998). Infant feeding practices in Barbados predict later growth. Journal of Nutrition, 128, 1328-1335.
Caron, A. J., Caron, R., Roberts, J., & Brooks, R. (1997). Infant sensitivity to deviations in dynamic facial-vocal displays: The role of eye regard. Developmental Psychology, 33, 802-813.
Brooks, R. (In press). Gaze. In F. R. Volkmar (Ed.), Encyclopedia of autism spectrum disorders. New York: Springer.
Meltzoff, A. N., & Brooks, R. (2009). Social cognition and language: The role of gaze following in early word learning. In J. Colombo, P. McCardle, & L. Freund (Eds.), Infant pathways to language: Methods, models, and research directions (pp. 169-194). New York: Psychology Press/Taylor Francis.
Meltzoff, A. N. & Brooks, R. (2007). Intersubjectivity before language: Three windows on preverbal sharing. In S. Bråten, (Ed.), On being moved: From mirror neurons to empathy (pp. 149-174). Amsterdam: John Benjamins.
Meltzoff, A. N. & Brooks, R. (2007). Eyes wide shut: The importance of eyes in infant gaze-following and understanding other minds. In R. Flom, K. Lee, & D. Muir (Eds.), Gaze-following: Its development and significance (pp. 217-241). Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum.
Meltzoff, A. N., & Brooks, R. (2001). “Like Me” as a building block for understanding other minds: Bodily acts, attention, and intention. In B. F. Malle, L.J. Moses, & D. A. Baldwin (Eds.), Intentions and intentionality: Foundations of social cognition (pp. 171-191). Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.
The Joint Visual Attention Lab is located at Institute for Learning & Brain Sciences on the University of Washington campus. We usually have 3 to 6 undergraduate students who are earning credit for their lab work each quarter. For our research we invite infants and toddlers to come to the lab (with their parents). Infants and toddlers play with toys at a table as they sit on their parent’s lap. During our studies children play with adults for about 10 to 20 minutes.
Following the eye gaze of other people is important for face-to-face social interactions from infancy to adulthood. Adults follow the gaze of another person because they want to see what the other person is looking at. This ability is usually called “gaze following” or “joint visual attention” and it helps us figure out what another person wants, likes, or sees. A question for research in the Joint Visual Attention Lab is whether infants have this understanding of eye gaze and, if not, when do these concepts develop.
Infants’ gaze following develops in significant ways in the first two years of life. Research from our lab has helped map out and interpret the meaning of those changes. The ongoing research topics include examining the emergence of gaze following, the relationship between joint visual attention and language acquisition, and the ways that infants learn about perception.