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Madhavilatha Maganti., PhD

Associate Professor | Psychology Infant and Child Development Lab

Short bio:

Madhavilatha Maganti is a researcher specializing in Developmental Psychology and Cognitive Science, with a primary focus on infancy and early childhood development. Her lab aims to understand patterns of growth and development from the neonatal to early childhood period in at-risk and typically developing infants & children. Within her lab, Maganti’s work focuses on studying the dynamics of caregiver-child interactions and understanding the development of attentional processes in at-risk infants using eye tracking methodologies. She also conducts in-depth language assessments through narrative analysis and investigates word-learning in at-risk infants. Her research also extends to examining the functional abilities of children with neurodevelopmental disorders, utilizing the WHO’s framework on International Classification of Functioning, Disability and Health for Children and Youth (ICF). Furthermore, to mitigate the effects of risks arising from early adversity, she is involved in the design, implementation, and evaluation of Early Childhood Development (ECD) interventions. Eventually, the goal is to harness emerging insights from developmental science and apply them to translational endeavors for advancing evidence-based practices. “Every child’s smile counts” is the overall emphasis of her research that underscores the significance of maternal and child health.

The multimodal nature of early experiences in high and low-risk infants: what’s going on in the tiny minds of infants?


Endowed with a mind and body of their own, infants are capable to explore the world around them and achieve an intelligence that seems amazing. How do infants achieve such complex abilities? To discern the dynamics of development, our lab examines how the rich multisensory nature of early experiences are a major driver of change in the complex heterogeneous system of cognition. More broadly, the talk is centered on understanding how these early experiences can provide a new perspective to identify early markers of neurodevelopmental differences in high-risk infants by highlighting findings from our lab studies.

Our research specifically focuses on investigating the early origins of multimodal attentional processes using naturalistic observations of mother-child interactions, along with deriving looking-time measures from eye tracking using intermodal preferential looking paradigms (IPLP) in low-and high-risk infants (preterm < 36 weeks gestational age, IUGR etc.). Additionally, we employ eye tracking technology to derive looking-time measures using intermodal preferential looking paradigms (IPLP). This approach allows us to examine attentional patterns in both low-risk and high-risk infants, including those born prematurely or with intrauterine growth restriction (IUGR). The first study explores the dynamics of caregiver-infant interactions and their influence on early attentional development. In the second study, we aim to elucidate the development of multimodal attention by analyzing variations in gaze fixations among a cross-sectional sample of high and low-risk infants at 3, 6, and 9 months of age. By examining the trajectory of attentional development, our lab studies offer valuable insights into early cognitive differences among high-risk infants, providing essential data for identifying potential markers of cognitive development.

In essence, the emphasis is to catch these anomalies and brain functions when the brain is maximally plastic so as to ameliorate the root causes of cognitive deficits before the brain’s learning networks have become hardwired. These insights play a crucial role for early identification that have broader implications for planning timely interventions to support infants’ cognitive, social, and emotional development for achieving Sustainable Developmental Goals (SDGs# 4) pertaining to foster the holistic development of children.

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