Our Key Areas of Research

Frau und Kind mit EEG-Kappen in Spielsituation

 How do children learn in social interactions?

Kind und Frau beim Spielen

When people communicate they unconsciously synchronize their behavior, expressions and gestures and – as recent research shows – their rhythmic brain activities. Being "in tune" with each other seems to be essential for effective communication. It is less clear whether this is also the case in early development. Is there mutual attunement on the neural and behavioral level between children and adults and does this predict whether the child is able to learn something in the interaction? In this project we explore social learning in dynamic live interactions between children and adults. We seek to find out more about the mechanisms underlying social learning in early development in order to find ways to support it.


  • Hoehl, S., Michel, C., Reid, V. M., Parise, E., & Striano, T (2014). Eye contact during live social interaction modulates infants’ oscillatory brain activity. Social Neuroscience, 9(3), 300 - 308 [DOI]
  • Pauen, S., Träuble, B., Hoehl, S., & Bechtel, S. (2015) Show me the world: Object categorization and socially guided object learning in infancy. Child Development Perspectives, 9(2), 111 - 116 [DOI]

 How do babies direct their attention?

Frau und Kind mit EEG-Kappe in Spielsituation

Shortly after birth babies orient their attention toward other people. This is crucial for building up first relationships. It may also help infants to structure the immense amount of new sensory inputs they encounter and to direct their limited attentional resources toward important things in the environment. Using eye tracking we investigate which stimuli direct infants' attention effectively toward events and objects in the environment. We are especially interested in the mechanisms and developmental processes underlying infants' remarkable susceptibility for social cues such as the eyes.


  • Michel, C., Stets, M., Parise, E., Reid, V. M., Striano, T., Hoehl, S. (2015). Theta- and alpha-band EEG activity in response to eye gaze cues in early infancy. NeuroImage 118, 576 - 583
  • Hoehl, S., Wahl, S., Pauen, S. (2014). Disentangling the effects of an adult model's eye gaze and head orientation on young infants' processing of a previously attended object. Infancy 19(1), 53 - 64
  • Hoehl, S., Wahl, S., Michel, C., Striano, T (2012). Effects of eye gaze cues provided by the caregiver compared to a stranger on infants' object processing. Developmental Cognitive Neuroscience 2(1), 81 - 89

 How do emerging adults experience the transition into adulthood?

Drei junge Erwachsene unterhalten sich in einer Parkanlage

  • To what extent do emerging adults feel themselves adult?
  • How do emerging adults experience the transition from adolescence to adulthood?
  • What criteria do emerging adults perceive necessary to be considered adult?
  • How do emerging adults experience their relationship to parents in the transition to adulthood?
  • What is the role of parents in their emerging adults’ perceived competence regarding financial matters?

Answers to these questions regarding coping with transitions - especially the transition from adolescence to adulthood - are part of my research interest. In this context it is also important for me taking into account context and personality variables.


  • Sirsch U., Dreher E., Mayr E., Willinger U. (2009). What does it take to be an adult in Austria? Views of adulthood in Austrian adolescents, emerging adults, and adults. Journal of Adolescent Research, 24, 275-292. [DOI]
  • Zupančič, M., Friedlmeier, W., Puklek Levpušček, M., Sirsch, U., Bruckner-Feld, J., & Horvat, M. (2014). Perceptions of achieved criteria for adulthood among Austrian, Slovene, and U.S. students. Sage Open, 4, 1–12. [DOI]