by Colleen Glenn
Congratulations are in order for Ramesh Bhatt, who has recently won a three-year National Science Foundation grant worth $432,751. Bhatt, a professor of Psychology at the University of Kentucky, will use the support to expand his research on the development of social functioning in infancy.
“Bodies provide a lot of information that facilitates social functioning in adults,” Bhatt says. “However, not much research has addressed the development of knowledge about bodies. The proposed research will let us examine questions such as whether babies know how bodies are organized in terms of the relative proportions of various parts.”
For example, Bhatt will analyze how infants from 3 to 9 months of age react to systematic changes to body and face images, documenting which aspects of bodies and faces infants scan. The results will help Bhatt determine whether babies know as much about bodies as about faces.
“In general,” Bhatt says, “the grant will allow us to study when various kinds of body knowledge develop during the first year of life.”
In addition to supporting the university’s mission to contribute to basic scientific knowledge, Bhatt’s NSF grant may help answer questions about Autism, a developmental disability that has had a great impact on our society.
“Deficits in body and face knowledge are characteristics of Autism,” explains Bhatt. “By contributing to knowledge about the development of typical social perception, my research will provide information that will be helpful in detecting Autism early in life and mitigating its effects.”