Community Research and Development Information Service - CORDIS


ACT Report Summary

Project ID: 289404
Funded under: FP7-PEOPLE
Country: United Kingdom

Periodic Report Summary 2 - ACT (Action research: Improving understanding and methodologies in early development)

The ACT Initial Training Network is devoted to investigating the interplay between action and cognition using a developmental approach. The network trains PhD students and produces new technology to answer critical issues in our understanding of human development. A core assumption of the network is that development of perception, motivation, and cognition is grounded in, and develops through, our own actions. We learn about our physical environment by actively engaging with the world. As we develop new action capabilities, new elements of the environment become salient to us. This process is especially prominent early in infancy when action capacities and an understanding of the world develop. In order to understand human development, more information is needed about how infants explore their environment and develop complex actions such as manual exploration and walking. Increasing our understanding of action execution and action understanding is paramount to all aspects of life, including individual development, organisational structures, public policy, and the treatment of various social deficits such as autism.

The network holds three primary aims. The first aim is to promote the integration of four leading European research institutions devoted to investigating the connection between action execution and action understanding. The second aim is to facilitate cooperation between industry partners within the network, and at the same time, facilitate the transition of Early Stage Researchers (ESRs) between industry partners. The network includes three full industry partners representing leading European research companies (SMEs) devoted to developing, producing, and commercializing products designated to recording and analyzing (1) gaze direction through eye tracking, (2) action through motion capture, and (3) brain activity through EEG. The facilitation of cooperation between industry partners will be achieved by developing software tools that enable an integration of products from different companies within the network. This activity will also create analysis tools that specifically target challenges that are unique to products for developmental populations. The third aim is to develop collaborations between academia and industry. Today few contact points exist between companies that develop research tools and the researchers that use these products. The ACT network bridges this gap.

All ESRs started by October 2012. The work packages are progressing at the anticipated rate. In addition to research activities at the primary affiliation of each ESR, all ESRs have either visited other network locations for “scoping visits” to determine collaborative project content and to understand facilities and options available, or, have visited network locations and proceeded to undertake research. At this early stage there are no highlights of scientific achievements.

This ITN is having substantial impact on the strength and effectiveness of EU-wide collaborations that focus on early development and action. Links between industry and academia have been formed, with the intention of building new, developmentally appropriate, tools for developmental research. ACT consolidates and creates new medium and long-term synergies between diverse network members from diverse member states. The impact of the ITN on network activities will provide substantial facilitation of collaborations in terms of training and research outputs. These synergies will persist beyond the lifetime of the project itself due to the emphasis placed on joint publications between groups, pooling of resources and expertise between groups, and the creation of joint products developed for the scientific market.
In addition, the well defined collaborative training and research activities within ACT, including visits to collaborating laboratories and industry partners, and the appointment of a co-supervisor and mentor from another partner institution, will enable a gradual integration of research practices across sectors and across Europe. Outside academia and industry, this ITN also seeks to raise awareness across Europe to issues associated with the development of action execution and action understanding. This may result in medium term changes in policy associated with issues surrounding early social development, such as, for example, the treatment of institutionally reared children, or young children diagnosed with autism.

For further information, see

Dr. Vincent Reid

Reader in Developmental Cognitive Neuroscience

Centre for Research in Human Development and Learning
Department of Psychology, Fylde College

Lancaster University


Lancaster, LA1 4YF, UK


Reported by

United Kingdom
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