Helene Gudi

Helene Gudi

E-mail: hgudi@uos.de
University: University of Osnabrueck
PhD Supervisor: Prof. Dr. Heidi Keller

The title of speech for school:

Infants’ Learning and Memory Development

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My name is Helene Gudi, I am female, I am 27 years old. I work at the University of Osnabrueck under the supervision of Prof. Dr. Heidi Keller. In November 2009 I finished my diploma thesis (“The interplay of parental dimensions: An empirical analysis of the ‘conceptual model of parenting’”) and started working at Prof. Keller’s department “Culture and Development” in Osnabrueck. I am involved in the LEGES-project (Lern- und Gedächtnisleistungen von Säuglingen [Learning and memory capacities in infants]), funded by DFG (Deutsche ForschungsGemeinschaft [German Association for Research]). LEGES is a multidisciplinary, longitudinal, cross-cultural project in collaboration of four German universities. The four main cognitive paradigms of infancy (habituation/dishabituation, association, contingency, and deferred imitation) are analyzed in 3, 6, and 9 months old babies in Germany and Cameroon. My interests focus on the interrelations between different constructs and their impact on the infant’s development at one point in time and their progress over time. In particular, I am interested in the interplay of mother-child free play interactions and the child’s developmental status, concentrating on variables during the interaction that might affect the infant’s development assessed with the Bayley’s scales. Currently, I conceptualize my dissertation-project, working on the theoretical background and the assumptions relating to the interrelations I expect.

My main interest in the Summer School is founded in the ISCAR’s focus on “the study of specific cultural practices and/or the genesis and development of mental processes, where practices and processes are conceptualized as historically and collectively developed”. I always was fascinated by my experiences (my family immigrated from Kyrgyzstan to Germany in 1993, when I was 10 years old) to which extend the environmental context, the individual grows up in, has an impact on his/her understandings of the world. The work within our department concentrates on cross-cultural research. In this research field I found scientific support that different cultural contexts affect and shape social, emotional, behavioral, and cognitive processes in individuals in an adaptive manner to the context. The cultural background itself is seen as the influencing variable. From the Summer School I expect to gain more precise insight in the ISCAR’s approach to get ideas how and which concrete aspects of the culture develop within a context and generate particular mental processes. Particular questions I would like to discuss are e.g.:

  • The language is an important tool in each cultural context. A lot of research concentrated on comparably dominant preverbal tools that structure mental processes in infants. How to detect them, how to find indices, how to become sensitive for these indices in different cultures?
  • Using western instruments for non-western assessments: Does this procedure meet the requirements for cross-cultural research? Does this procedure enable or avert the study of culture-specific practices?

In August 2009 I participated in the “4th Africa Region Conference of the IACCP” in Buea, Cameroon. One essential aspect of discussion at the conference was the emic-etic-issue. Some researchers argued against foreign colleagues in cultures they are not members of. I disagree on this point. In my opinion, a researcher obviously should try to become familiar with his/her work’s contexts. Nevertheless, I do not accept the individual’s own cultural background as a handicap. In best case a person from another context might even be seen as more neutral and even might have innovative aspects to interpret situations. I would be very interested in hearing ISCAR’s ideas relating similar issues.

  1. Hofer, J.; Keller, H.; Gudi, H.; & Demuth, C. (in prep). Early Socialization in Dinner
  2. Conversations Linking to Implicit Motives in earliest childhood memories.
  3. Demuth, C.; Keller, H.; Gudi, H.; & Otto, H. (under review).  Linking discursive practices in early childhood socialization with autobiographical self-constructions later on in life – an attempt to identify developmental precursors of autonomy and relatedness. In: Hansen, Jensen de López & Berliner (Eds). Self in Culture in Mind. Conceptional and applied perspectives.

Helene Gudi “Infants’ Learning and Memory Development”