Rechele Brooks, Ph.D.

Research Scientist

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Dr. Brooks is a research scientist at the Institute. She received her BA from Pomona College and her Ph.D. from Boston University. Her main line of research centers on the development of social cognition in infancy. Her areas of interest include the study of gaze following 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.


Educational Background

1999 Ph.D., Psychology, Boston University, Boston, MA
1988 BA, Psychology, Pomona College, Claremont, CA


Academic Positions Held

2017-present: Research Scientist, Institute for Learning & Brain Sciences, University of Washington
2009-2017: Research Assistant Professor, Department of Psychiatry & Behavioral Sciences, University of Washington
2005-2009: Research Scientist, Institute for Learning & Brain Sciences, University of Washington
2001-2005: Postdoctoral Research Fellow, Institute for Learning & Brain Sciences, University of Washington

Professional Offices, Awards, and Affiliations

2016-present: Bloedel Affiliate, Virginia Merrill Bloedel Hearing Research Center, University of Washington
2007-2014: Advisory Board Member for Behavioral Science Core, Center on Human Development and Disability, University of Washington
2007, 2013: Ad Hoc Grant Reviewer for the National Science Foundation
2005-present: Coordinator for the I-LABS Roundtable, University of Washington
2004 Fall: Future Faculty Fellow, Howard Hughes Medical Institute Undergraduate Education Grant & Department of Biology, University of Washington


Journal Articles

Barragan, R. C., Oliveira, N., Khalvati, K., Brooks, R., Reinecke, K., Rao, R. P. N., & Meltzoff, A. N. (2021). Identifying with all humanity predicts cooperative health behaviors and helpful responding during COVID-19. PLoS ONE, 16, e0248234.

Brooks, R., Singleton, J. L., & Meltzoff, A. N. (2020). Enhanced gaze-following behavior in Deaf infants of Deaf parents. Developmental Science, 23, e12900.

Barragan, R. C., Brooks, R., & Meltzoff, A. N. (2020). Altruistic food sharing behavior by human infants after a hunger manipulation. Scientific Reports, 10, 1785.

Meltzoff, A. N., Murray, L., Simpson, E., Heimann, M., Nagy, E., Nadel, J., Pedersen, E. J., Brooks, R., Messinger, D. S., De Pascalis, L., Subiaul, F., Paukner, A., & Ferrari, P. F. (2019). Eliciting imitation in early infancy. Developmental Science, 22, e12738.

Meltzoff, A. N., Murray, L., Simpson, E., Heimann, M., Nagy, E., Nadel, J., Brooks, R., Messinger, D. S., De Pascalis, L., Subiaul, F., Paukner, A., & Ferrari, P. F. (2018). Re-examination of Oostenbroek et al. (2016) – Evidence for neonatal imitation of tongue protrusion. Developmental Science, 21, e12609.

Conboy, B. T., Brooks, R., Meltzoff, A. N., & Kuhl, P. K. (2015). Social interaction in infants’ learning of second-language phonetics: An exploration of brain-behavior relations. Developmental Neuropsychology, 40, 216-219.

Williamson, R. A., Brooks, R., & Meltzoff, A. N. (2015). The sound of social cognition: Toddlers’ understanding of how sound influences others. Journal of Cognition and Development, 16, 252-260.

Brooks, R. & Meltzoff, A. N. (2015). Connecting the dots from infancy to childhood: A longitudinal study connecting gaze following, language, and explicit theory of mind. Journal of Experimental Child Psychology, 130, 67-78.  Click here to view article.

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. Click here to view article.

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. Click here to view article.

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.  Click here to view article.

Brooks, R. & Meltzoff, A. N. (2005). The development of gaze following and its relation to language. Developmental Science, 8, 535-543.  Click here to view article.

Brooks, R. & Meltzoff, A. N. (2002). The importance of eyes: How infants interpret adult looking behavior. Developmental Psychology, 38, 958-966.  Click here to view article.

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.  Click here to view article.

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.  Click here to view article.

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.  Click here to view article.

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.  Click here to view article.


Book Chapters

Brooks, R. (2021). Gaze. In F. R. Volkmar (Ed.), Encyclopedia of autism spectrum disorders (2nd ed., pp. 2168-2173). New York: Springer. Click here to view chapter.

Brooks, R. (2017). Joint attention. In B. Hopkins, E. Geangu, & S. Linkenauger (Eds.), Cambridge encyclopedia of child development (2nd ed., pp. 464-469). Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press.

Brooks, R. (2015). Infant gaze behaviors. In J. D. Wright (Ed.), International encyclopedia of the social and behavioral sciences (2nd ed). Oxford, UK: Elsevier.

Brooks, R., & Meltzoff, A. N. (2014). Gaze following: A mechanism for building social connections between infants and adults. In M. Mikulincer & P. R. Shaver (Eds.), Mechanisms of social connection: From brain to group (pp. 167-183). Washington, DC: American Psychological Association.

Meltzoff, A. N. & Brooks, R. (2013). Gaze following and agency in human infancy. In J. Metcalfe & H. S. Terrace (Eds.), Agency and joint attention (pp. 125-151). New York, NY: Oxford University Press.

Brooks, R. (2013). Gaze. In F. R. Volkmar (Ed.), Encyclopedia of autism spectrum disorders (1st ed., pp. 1400-1405). 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.

About the Lab

The Joint Visual Attention Lab (JVA Lab) is located at the Institute for Learning & Brain Sciences on the University of Washington Seattle campus. At the JVA Lab, we seek to understand infants’ and children’s social and cognitive development. We are interested in how infants and children understand the perspectives of others and how their understanding of people impacts their social interactions.

In the JVA Lab, we specifically study how infants and children understand the eye-gaze of others. The direction of an adult’s gaze conveys important information about objects of interest in the surroundings. By following the eye-gaze of others, adults can identify what another person wants, likes, or sees. This ability is usually called “gaze following” or “joint visual attention,” and is important for face-to-face social interactions. We study when and how infants develop this understanding of eye-gaze.

       Want to volunteer for a child development study at I-LABS?

       We have some online studies with our colleagues:

Here is what we study at the JVA Lab:

General Gaze Following
     - When do infants follow the eye-gaze of other people? How does this relate to their language         development? How do infants learn about the perception of other people?

     - What makes infants and children view non-human objects as agents (i.e., potentially sentient)?           - When will they interact with a robot as if it is a person? How do infants decide if they should         follow the “gaze” of a robot?

Deaf and Hard of Hearing Infants/Children
     - How do children’s experiences with language and being Deaf encourage their interest in eye gaze during social interactions?
     - Do infants and children who are deaf or hard of hearing rely more on seeing social cues (e.g., eye-gaze, pointing) than their hearing peers?

For our research, in the future, we invite infants and toddlers to come to the lab with their parents. Children and the researcher(s) play with toys together at a table while the children sit on their parent’s lap. Playing during the study lasts about 20 minutes, but families visit the lab for a full hour to allow time for paperwork, questions, and free-play time.

Students are encouraged to apply to be a 499 student or volunteer if the research being conducted at our lab matches with their interests. We usually have 3 to 6 undergraduate students who are earning credit for their lab work each quarter.


Phone Number: 
(206) 616-6107

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