Gert Westermann

Professor

A bit about Gert Westermann

I studied Computer Science, Linguistics and Psychology in Braunschweig, Germany and Austin, TX, before combining all three in a PhD in Cognitive Science from the University of Edinburgh. I then worked as a Researcher for the Sony Computer Science Lab in Paris before joining the School of Psychology at Birkbeck, London, as a Research Fellow. I subsequently moved to Oxford Brookes University as a Lecturer and became Professor of Psychology in 2009. In 2011 I moved to Lancaster University. From January to July 2013 I was a Lichtenberg Fellow at the University of Göttingen, Germany, and in 2016/17 I held  a Senior Research Fellowship from the British Academy/Leverhulme Trust. I also lead the Leverhulme Trust Doctoral Scholarship Centre in Interdisciplinary Research on Infant Development at Lancaster University.

My research is mainly concerned with early cognitive and language development but also with the question of how development shapes cognitive processing in adults. In my work I combine empirical approaches such as eye tracking of infants with computational modelling to build theories of cognitive change through development. 

My Role in LuCiD

I have been a LuCiD co-director since August 2018. I currently lead the From Variation to Explanation research stream. In phase 1, I led a research project in which Katie Twomey, Szilvia Linnert and Han Ke and I studied the transition from preverbal to language-based cognition. 

LuCiD publications (73) by Gert Westermann

Jones, S. D., Stewart, H. J., & Westermann, G. (2023). A maturational frequency discrimination deficit may explain developmental language disorder. Psychological Review.

Chan, K.C. J. , Shaw, P., Westermann, G. (2023). The sound of silence: Reconsidering infants' object categorization in silence, with labels, and with nonlinguistic sounds Cognition

Jones, S.D., Jones, M., Koldewyn, K., & Westermann, G. (2023). Rational inattention: A new theory of neurodivergent information seeking PsyArXiv

Bazhydai, M., Ke, H., Thomas, H., Wong, KY, & Westermann, G. (2022). Investigating the effect of interpersonal behavioral synchrony on toddlers’ word learning Frontiers in Psychology

Chen, X., Twomey, K. E., & Westermann, G. (2022). Curiosity enhances incidental object encoding Journal of Experimental Child Psychology, Volume 223,105508, ISSN 0022-0965

Jones, S. D. & Westermann, G. (2022). Under-resourced or overloaded? Rethinking working memory deficits in developmental language disorder. .Psychological Review, 129(6), 1358–1372.

Ma, L., Twomey, K., & Westermann, G. (2022). The impact of perceived emotions on toddlers' word learning Child Development, Volume 93, 1584-1600.

Jones, S. D., & Westermann, G. (2022). Prediction Cannot Be Directly Trained: An Extension to Jones and Westermann (2021) Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research, 65(10), 3930-3933.

Jones, S. D., & Westermann, G. (2021). Predictive Processing and Developmental Language Disorder Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research, 64(1), 181–185

Twomey, K. E. & Westermann, G. (2019). Building the Foundations of Language: Mechanisms of curiosity-driven learning In Horst, J. S. & von Koss Torkildsen, J. (Eds.), International Handbook of Language Acquisition (1st Ed). Routledge.

Silverstein. S., Westermann, G., Parise, E. & Twomey, K. E. (2021). Infants Learn to Follow Gaze in Stages: Evidence Confirming a Robotic Prediction Open Mind 5:174–188.

Ishibashi, M., Twomey, K.E., Westermann, G. & Uehara, I. (2021). Children’s scale errors and object processing: early evidence for cross-cultural differences. Infant Behavior and Development. Infant Behavior and Development, 65, 101631.

Bazhydai, M., Twomey, K. E. & Westermann, G. (2020). Exploration and curiosity. In Benson, J.B. (Ed.), Encyclopedia of Infant and Early Childhood Development (2nd ed.), Vol. 2: Cognition, Perception & Language, pp. 370-378. Academic Press

Taxitari, L., Twomey, K. E., Westermann, G. & Manu, N. (2019). The Limits of Infants’ Early Word Learning. Language Learning and Development

Bazhydai, M, Westermann, G. & Parise, E. (2020). “I don't know but I know who to ask”: 12‐month‐olds actively seek information from knowledgeable adults. Developmental Science

Capelier-Mourguy, A., Twomey, K. E. & Westermann G. (2020). Neurocomputational Models Capture the Effect of Learned Labels on Infants’ Object and Category Representations. IEEE

Jones, S. & Westerman, G. (2021). Predictive processing and Developmental Language Disorder. JSLHR

Bazhydai, M., Silverstein, P., Parise, E., & Westermann, G. (2020). Two-year-old children preferentially transmit simple actions but not pedagogically demonstrated actions. Developmental Science, e12941.

Twomey, K., Ma, S., Westermann, G. (2017). Extraneous visual noise facilitates word learning. Proceedings of the 39th Annual Conference of the Cognitive Science Society.

Silverstein, P., Westermann, G., Parise, E., Twomey, K. (2019). Do infants learn to follow gaze through reinforcement learning? Testing a robot prediciton. In J. Torresen & K. Dautenhahn (Eds.) Proceedings of the 9th Joint IEEE International Conference on Development and Learning and on Epigenetic Robots

Chang, K. C., Westermann, G. (2018). Labels in infants' object categorization: Facilitative, or merely non-disruptive?. Poster presented at the 21st Biennial International Conference on Infant Studies, Philadelphia, USA.

Bazhydai, M.., Silverstein, P., Westermann, G., Parise, E. (2018). Pedagogical cues and action complexity affect transmission of information in two-year-old children. (2) Poster presented at the 21st biennial meeting of the International Conference of Infant Studies, Philadelphia, USA.

Silverstein, P., Westermann, P., Gliga, T., Parise, E. (2018). Probing Communication-Induced Memory Biases in Preverbal Infants: Two Replication Attempts of Yoon, Johnson and Csibra (2008). (1) Poster presented at the 21st biennial meeting of the International Congress of Infant Studies, Philadelphia, USA.

Bazhydai, M., Westermann, G., Parise, E. (2019). 12-month-old infants actively seek information from a knowledgeable social partner. Poster presented at the Budapest CEU Conference on Cognitive Development (BCCCD19), Budapest, Hungary.

Kaduk, K., Bakker, M., Juvrud, J., Gredebäck, G., Westermann, G., Lunn, J., & Reid, V. M. (2016). Semantic processing of actions at 9 months is linked to language proficiency at 9 and 18 months. Journal of Experimental Child Psychology, 151, 96-108.

Westermann, G. (2018). BabyWeek. Presentation at BabyWeek Bradford, Bradford, UK.

Bazhydai, M., Silverstein, P., Westermann, G., Parise, E. (2018). Pedagogical cues and action complexity affect transmission of information in two-year-old children. (1) Budapest CEU Conference on Cognitive Development, Budapest, Hungary.

Cheung, S.,Parise, E., Brandt, S., Westermann, G. (2018). Can bilingualism enhance speech perception? Evidence from a cross-cultural fNIRS brain-imaging study. 3rd Lancaster International Conference on Infant and Child Development, Lancaster, UK.

Silverstein, P., Westermann, G., Gliga, T., Parise, E. (2018). Preverbal infants' attention allocation to communicative and non-communicative scenes. 3rd Lancaster International Conference on Infant and Child Development Lancaster, UK.

Bazhydai, M., Westermann, G., Parise, E. (2018). Preverbal infants' social referencing as information-seeking in situations of referential uncertainty. 3rd Lancaster International Conference on Infant and Child Development, Lancaster, UK.

Bazhydai, M., Silverstein, P., Westermann, G., Parise, E. (2018). Preferential transmission of simple actions over pedagogically demonstrated actions in two-year-old children. 3rd Lancaster International Conference on Infant and Child Development, Lancaster, UK.

Bazhydai, M., Silverstein, P., Westermann, G., Parise, E. (2018). Pedagogical cues and action complexity affect transmission of information in two-year-old children. Poster presented at XXIst Biennial International Conference on Infant Studies, Philadelphia, USA.

Silverstein, P., Gliga, T., Westermann, G., Parise, E. (2019). Probing communication-induced memory biases in preverbal infants: Two replication attempts of Yoon, Johnson and Csibra (2008). Infant Behaviour and Development, 55, 77-87.

Hilton, M., Twomey, K., Westermann, G. (2019). Taking their eye off the ball: How shyness affects children's attention during word learning. Journal of Experimental Child Psychology, 183, 134-145.

Kaduk, K., Bakker, M., Juvrud, J., Gredeback, G., Westermann, G., Lunn, J., & Reid, V. (2016). Relationships between the detection of actions with unexpected outcomes at 9 months and language production at 18 months. Paper presented at the XX Biennial International Conference on Infant Studies, New Orleans, LA, USA.

Twomey, K. E., Smith, A., Monaghan, P. & Westermann, G. (2016). Neural Network Models of Psychological Phenomena Proceedings of the 14th Neural Computation and Psychology Workshop (NCPW).

Marno, H., Westermann, G., & Parise, E. (2016). Verbal labeling overrides visual similarity during object categorization in 9-month-old infants Poster presented at the BCCCD - Budapest CEU Conference on Cognitive Development, Budapest, Hungary.

Westermann, G. (2016). Experience-dependent brain development as a key to understanding the language system. Topics in Cognitive Science, 8(2), 446-58.

Twomey, K., Westermann, G. (2015). A neural network model of curiosity-driven infant categorization. (1) Paper presented at 5th IEEE International Conference on Development and Learning and on Epigenetic Robotics Brown University, Rhode Island, USA.

Trotter, A. S., Frost, R. L. A., & Monaghan, P. (2016). Multiple natural language cues assist the processing of hierarchical structure. (2) Poster presented at the Lancaster University Faculty of Sciene and Technology Chistmas Conderece, Lancaster, UK.

Cheung, S. and Westermann, G. (2016). Developmental differences in phonemic perception between monolingual and bilingual infants. Poster presented at the 1st Lancaster Conference on Infant & Child Development, Lancaster, UK.

Loucaides, M., Twomey, K. E., and Westermann, G. (2016). The effect of labelling on infants’ object exploration. (1) Marina Loucaides, Katherine E Twomey and Gert Westermann presented this poster.

A. Capelier-Mourguy, Katherine Twomey and Gert Westermann. (2010). Where's my label?! Studying how a missing label and other missing features are perceived. A. Capelier-Mourguy, Katherine Twomey and Gert Westermann presented this poster.

Capelier-Mourguy, A., Twomey, K. E., & Westermann, G. (2016). New light on the status of labels. Poster presented at the 38th Annual Meeting of the Cognitive Science Society, Philadelphia, PA, USA. Page 2 (Conference proceedings).

Taylor, G., Monaghan, P. & Westermann, G. (2016). The role of storybooks and screen media exposure on children’s language development. Poster presented at the International Conference on Infant Studies , New Orleans, LA, USA.

Taylor, G., Monaghan, P. & Westermann, G. (2016). Children’s verb learning from touchscreen apps. Poster presented at the Lancaster Conference in Infant and Child Development, Lancaster, UK.

Taylor, G., Monaghan, P. & Westermann, G. (2016). Can children learn verbs from touchscreen apps? Paper presented at The 2nd International LuCiD Language and Communicative Development Conference, Manchester, UK.

Taylor, G., Monaghan, P. & Westermann, G. (2016). Children’s verb learning: Touchscreen apps versus live interactions. Paper presented at the British Psychological Society: Developmental Psychology Section Annual Conference, Belfast, UK.

Ke, H., Malem, B., Westermann, G. & Twomey, K. E. (2018). New evidence for systematicity in infants’ curiosity-driven learning. (1) Poster presented at the 2018 Budapest CEU Conference on Cognitive Development, Central European University, Budapest, Hungary.

Ke. H., Westermann, G., & Twomey, K. E. (2018). Infants generate structured learning environments during curiosity-driven category exploration. Poster to be presented at Expanding the Field 2018: Multidisciplinary Developmental Dynamics Workshop, University of East Anglia, Norwich, UK

Ke, H., Westermann, G., & Twomey, K. E. (2018). New evidence for systematicity in infants’ curiosity-driven learning. In Eiterjoerge, S. (chair) Using Innovative Methods to Understand Infants’ Curiosity-Driven Learning. Symposium presented at the XXI ICIS International Conference on Infant Studies, Philadelphia, PA, USA.

Taylor, G., Monaghan, P., & Westermann, G. (2018). Investigating the association between children’s screen media exposure and vocabulary size in the UK. Journal of Children and Media., 12, 51-65.

Twomey, K. E., & Westermann, G. (2017). Curiosity-based learning in infants: A neurocomputational approach. Developmental Science. 10.1111/desc.12629

Twomey, K. E., Ma, L., & Westermann, G. (2017). All the Right Noises: Background Variability Helps Early Word Learning Cognitive Science. https://doi.org/10.1111/cogs.12539

Twomey, K. E. & Westermann, G. (in press). (2017). Learned labels shape pre-speech infants’ object representations. Infancy.

Twomey, K. E., & Westermann, G. (2016). A learned label modulates object representations in 10-month-old infants. In Papafragou, A., Grodner, D., Mirman, D., & Trueswell, J.C. (Eds.) (2016). Proceedings of the 38th Annual Conference of the Cognitive Science Society. Austin, TX: Cognitive Science Society.Page 10.

Ní Choisdealbha, Á., Westermann, G., Dunn, K. and Reid, V. (2016). Dissociating associative and motor aspects of action understanding: Processing of dual-ended tools by 16-month-old infants. British Journal of Developmental Psychology, 34: 115–131.

Twomey, K. E., Westermann, G., Oudeyer, P.-Y., & Yu, C. (2016). Understanding infants’ curiosity-based learning: empirical and computational approaches. Symposium presented at the XX Biennial International Conference on Infant Studies New Orleans, LA, USA.

Hilton, M., Twomey, K. E., & Westermann, G. (2016). Caregivers as experimenters: Reducing unfamiliarity helps shy children learn words. Paper presented at the XX Biennial International Conference on Infant Studies, New Orleans, LA, USA.

Loucaides, M., Twomey, K. E., & Westermann, G. (2016). The effect of labelling on infants’ object exploration. Poster presented at the 1st Lancaster Conference on Infant & Child Development, Lancaster, UK.

Westermann, G. & Twomey, K. E (2016). A computational model of infants’ curiosity-based learning. In Twomey, K. E., (chair) Understanding Infants’ Curiosity-Based Learning: Empirical and Computational Approaches. Symposium presented at the XX Biennial International Conference on Infant Studies, New Orleans, LA, USA. DOI: 10.13140/RG.2.1.3821.5288

Twomey, K. E., Malem, B. & Westermann, G. (2016). Infants’ information seeking in a category learning task. (chair) Understanding Infants’ Curiosity-Based Learning: Empirical and Computational Approaches. Symposium presented at the XX Biennial International Conference on Infant Studies, New Orleans, LA, USA.

Hilton, M., Twomey, K. E. and Westermann, G. (2016). FaceTime: Shy children’s increased attention to faces and its effect on word learning. Paper presented at the 1st Lancaster Conference on Infant & Child Development, Lancaster, UK.

Twomey, K. E. & Westermann, G. (2016). Learned labels shape prelinguistic infants’ object representations. Paper presented at the 1st Lancaster Conference on Infant & Child Development, Lancaster, UK. DOI: 10.13140/RG.2.2.22396.13442

Ma, S., Twomey, K. E., & Westermann, G. (2016). The effect of background variability on referent selection in fast mapping tasks: Evidence from eye movements. Poster presented at the XX Biennial International Conference on Infant Studies, New Orleans, LA, USA. DOI: 10.13140/RG.2.2.20877.33763

Twomey, K. E., Smith, A., Monaghan, P. & Westermann, G. (2016). Neurocomputational Models of Cognitive Development and Processing: Proceedings of the 14th Neural Computation and Psychology Workshop (NCPW). World Scientific. Trends in Psychology and Artificial Intelligence. Hershey, PA: Information Science Reference.

Capelier-Mourguy, A., Twomey, K. E., Kovic, V. & Westermann, G. (2016). Categories with Mismatching Feature Salience and Diagnosticity: How a Label Helps Learning. Poster presented at the 15th Neural Computation and Psychology Workshop. Phliadelphia, USA.

Capelier-Mourguy, A., Twomey, K. E. & Westermann, G. (2016). A neurocomputational model of the effect of learned labels on infants’ object representations. Paper presented at the 38th Annual Cognitive Science Society Meeting. Philadelphia, USA.

Frost, R., Twomey, K. E., Taylor, G., Westermann, G. and Monaghan P. (2015). Word for word. Nursery World Magazine, 27 July, 21-23

Twomey, K. E., & Westermann, G. (2015). Curiosity optimises learning in a simulated infant categorisation task. Paper presented at the British Psychological Society Developmental and Social Section Annual Conference, Manchester, UK.

Twomey, K. E., & Westermann, G. (2015). A neural network model of curiosity-driven infant categorization. Paper presented at the Fifth Joint IEEE International Conference on Development and Learning and on Epigenetic Robotics, Brown University, USA.

Hilton, M. and Westermann, G. (2015). Shyness affects word learning: evidence from eye-tracking. Poster presented at The Society for Research in Child Development (SRCD) 2015 Biennial Meeting. Philadelphia, USA.

Westermann, G. and Twomey, K. (2014). Some thoughts on curiosity in infants and neural network models. Paper presented at the 1st Interdisciplinary Symposium on Information-Seeking, Curiosity and Attention (Neurocuriosity 2014). Bordeaux, France

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