A Happy Marriage: BPS CogDev 2013 Review

This year saw a first for the BPS Cognitive and Developmental Sections, from 4-6 September, 2013, as the two joined together for their annual conferences, at the University of Reading. With more delegates in attendance than either conference is used to, the organizing committee at Reading put together a tightly-packed, yet well-thought-out, programme, under the theme of “the relationship between cognition and development”.

Lying at the very heart of this relationship, one might argue, is the study of language, reading and writing, and how our understanding of these changes as we get older. And this conference presented a veritable feast of talks and posters for researchers in this area.

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I was interested to note that collaboration was a meta-theme throughout the conference, with a keynote by Mike Tomasello (Max Planck Institute, Leipzig) on early collaboration in humans and chimps, and several polished posters, looking at music and prosociality (Ria Davies, University of West London), Machiavellianism and peer relations (Loren Abell, University of Central Lancashire) and group decision making in adolescence (Alenka Gril, Educational Research Institute, Slovenia).Further to this, were informative talks on empathy and spontaneous helping (Robert Hepach, Max Planck Institute, Leipzig), reputation management (Eilidh Cage, Institute of Education, University of London) and on children’s perspective taking and emotional control.

For me the two highlights of the conference, academically speaking, were a symposium chaired by Patrick Leman (Royal Holloway, University of London) on children’s intergroup attitudes. I was pleased that a number of people attended my talk and shared thoughtful insights into the role of defenders both then, and over the English-themed conference dinner and later a ceilidh led by local band, the Diatonics.

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The tightly-packed nature of the scheduling was off-set by the conference hash tag #cogdev2013,  used hundreds of times to  share photos of the events and key messages from talks. Using Twitter also means that we can click the link below to re-live the experience, which, thanks to the dedicated work of the conference team, can be described as a decidedly happy marriage.

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