Young Infants' Detection of Emotion

Several babies in white t-shirts and diapers

KU Bably Lab at the Edwards Campus logo

The KU Baby Lab is a research lab on the University of Kansas Edwards campus in Overland Park, KS. We study how babies’ cognitive abilities change over time, particularly in the first year of life. We are interested in how attention to different types of objects leads to the complex social abilities that emerge in infancy.

Our current study is looking at how quickly infants detect emotional information in faces. We are using very brief presentation times; some we think may be subliminal. We present infants with an image of an emotional expression paired with a neutral expression on the other side of the screen. We want to see if infants look to the emotional target location even when presentation is very brief (167ms!) and masked by a scrambled face afterwards. We are also studying infants' changes in pupil diameter to the rapidly presented emotional expressions. Changes in pupil diameter are common in adults in response to emotional scenes or expressions, and we want to see how much exposure (time in milliseconds) is necessary to elicit this response in infants.

Project details

  • Primary Investigator: Nicole Zieber

  • Project start Date: 03/09/2020

  • Project finish Date: 02/28/2022



  • National Institutes of Health

  • Award Number: 1K99HD101500-02