Around 4-5 years of age children begin to understand that people have different thoughts, feelings and beliefs. This is called "Theory of Mind" and it describes the understanding that what is going on inside your mind is different to what is going on in mine.

New research from MIT shows that brain regions associated with theory of mind has already formed in children as young as 3. These findings will help us understand more about how this important social skill develops.

An new study finds the brain network that controls theory of mind has already formed in children as young as 3. The study is the first to use functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) to scan the brains of children that young as they perform a task requiring the ability to make inferences about s...
Early Learning Lab (ELLA) updated their cover photo.
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See ELLA’s Director, other UoA staff and ELLA participants in this documentary showing Sunday 830 pm on Prime!

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SCREENING on PRIME TV, Sunday the 11th of March 2018 at 8.30pm.

Do men and women think differently? Is your brain hard-wired as a girl or boy? Kiwi neuroscience... educator Nathan Wallis takes a fascinating journey into sex in the mind.

Informative and entertaining, popular neuroscience educator Nathan Wallis presents All In The Mind, an hour of compelling popular science about a very big life question. How do men & women behave differently and why? Are different brain structures really to blame for acting like a boy or girl? This everyday topic of conversation has a scientific basis that links directly to our brain – how it works and how we use it, and how modern New Zealand is defined by how Kiwis think about gender.

Pacey and vibrant, with lots of easy-to-use information, on-screen experiments and dynamic content, All In The Mind is an NZ On Air funded documentary packed with real-life ideas. Southland born presenter Nathan Wallis is the master of a catchy phrase as he conducts experiments on students and parents, scans his own mind in a stressful MRI, and tests his reactions in an EEG cap that looks like a ‘hi-tech tea cosy’.

All In The Mind introduces homegrown experts who are on the cutting edge of neuroscience research, and mixes them with footage of real Kiwis and situations, alongside ordinary people with personal experience of this challenging subject. All In The Mind generates memorable take-out information about how we think about being a girl or a boy, and whether that sex differences and gender preferences are actually hardwired into our brains at birth.

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Hello from ELLA! Find out about what we got up to in 2017!…

We had a really busy and productive 2017 here at ELLA. Whether or not we’ve seen you recently, or it’s been a bit longer we wanted to fill you in on what we got up to last year.


For those families who have participated with us this year, thank you so much! We really appreciate you and your child's support - your help is what makes our research at ELLA possible. For families who have not yet had the chance to get involved in our research, we hope that we have the opportunity to meet you in 2018.

Above is a link to our "ELLA Update" which outlines all the exciting research we conducted last year, our plans are for the coming and a little bit about who we are and what we do here at ELLA. Our ELLA Update is in a "Prezi" presentation format, this is an online format which allows you to click through different parts of our update and read up on things that interest you.

We hope you find this update interesting and informative. Please feel free to share it with family and friends. We are running several new and exciting studies in 2018 and hope to have even more of you join us here at ELLA. In the mean time you can find out more about what we're up to in the coming months by visiting out website:

Thank you again for your interest in our work and the time and effort you contribute to our research - it is invaluable and greatly appreciated!


The ELLA team

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Babies can learn the value of persistence by watching grownups stick with a challenge:…

Persistence and self-control are valuable traits that can help kids succeed in school and beyond. A new study suggests infants can learn stick-to-itiveness by watching adults persist in a difficult task.
What toys children play with can influence the skills they learn and the possibilities they see for themselves.

Family conflict is inevitable, but new research by our very own lab director Dr Annette Henderson (and colleagues Dr Nickola Overall and Dr Elizabeth Peterson) finds that healthy conflict helps children learn problem-solving and relationship skills.…/healthy-conflict-makes-familie…

Directly engaging in conflict, even when it involves anger and hostility, can help resolve problems and improve relationships, writes Nickola Overall.

Want to know more about language learning in early childhood? You can help us find out!

We are excited to tell you all about a new study that aims to provide the opportunity for second language learning with the use of a new prototype educational tool - featuring a touch screen series of interactive e-storybooks in an app format. We will explore how the use of technology can influence second language learning. This study will also contribute information to the development an...d refinement of the app, which we are developing in collaboration with a tech company.

Participation in this study will involve 3 visits, spaced approximately 2-3 weeks apart, with each visit taking 45 to 60 minutes of your time. We also ask that your child interact with the app for a minimum of 5 minutes per day between visits.

We, of course, offer free parking at the University of Auckland city campus for the duration of your sessions, your child will receive a small prize and your name will go into the draw for shopping vouchers as our thank you.
If you are interested in participating and meet the following eligibility criteria, please get in contact! We would love to have your family become part of this new study!

Eligibility criteria:
- Your child is aged between 3.5 and 5 years old.
- Your child's English language exposure exceeds 90%, i.e. your child is exposed to English more than 90% of the time.
- You are willing to agree to keep the nature and content of the app confidential, as this app is still in the development phases.
- As this app currently only operates on iOS, you will need such a device (like an Apple iPhone or iPad, etc.) with version 9 or above operating system.

Please feel free to let us know if you have any questions. You may contact us through this email or by phone on 09 923 4236 😀

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All children are unique and develop different skills at different times. Here researchers from the University of New South Wales break down "milestones" and what they mean for understanding your child's development:…

Childhood achievements such as walking and talking are often celebrated signs that things are going well in a child’s life. But once these achievements start being compared between children, they can become the cause of anxiety.

A rich linguistic environment provides the perfect context for children to learn to communicate with others. Here are some of the key research findings on the kind of input that can help promote language development.…/the-early-vocabulary-…/

“Dad, what is a whisk’s favourite drink?” “I don’t know. What is a whisk’s favourite drink?” “Whisky!” And so starts my young boy’s burgeoning entertainment career. So far, it is full of bad puns and energetic attempts at word play. Most jokes narrowly miss the mark, but they are...

Find out all about what ELLA has in store for 2018:

sken807 February 1, 2018February 1, 2018 Uncategorized No Comments Happy 2018 From ELLA! Hi friends of ELLA! We hope that you are having a lovely 2018 so far. As we reflect on 2017 and prepare to have a productive 2018, we wanted to let you know what ELLA will be up to in the upcoming months. ELLA S...
Early Learning Lab (ELLA) updated their cover photo.
February 1
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Help needed!
To all our wonderful Facebook friends, The Early Learning Lab (ELLa) at the University of Auckland is looking for children born between the 22/10/14 and the 31/7/15 to participate in research that we will be conducting in March and April 2018. The research looks at how children learn to cooperate with a similar age peer to solve simple game like problems. If you have a child who was born between these dates, hasn’t been involved in one of our studies during the last 12 months, and who you would like to get involved, please contact us (either via facebook or by calling the lab on 09 923 4236). All participating children will receive a small prize as our thank you, your name will go into our weekly draw for shopping vouchers and we will provide free parking on campus for the duration of your session

It’s story time and all books may not be created equal. Interesting new research suggests that infants’ learning and brain development may benefit from stories that include individually named characters.…

Psychology researchers bring infants into the lab to learn more about how shared book reading influences brain and behavioral development.

Exciting opportunity - our study on infants' understanding of sharing and cooperation is very near completion; we only need a few more infants to help us out! If you have an infant aged between 13.5 and 15 months and are available to visit our lab sometime in the next couple of days, please get in contact for more information about this interesting study! 😀

This is a really neat research study which offers new insights into how to improve children's ability to complete boring tasks ...…/new-research-finds-that-kids-aged-…

Six researchers, building on past studies, designed an experiment to see what makes kids stay on task when presented with the very real-world temptation of an iPad.