Bret Eschman

Project Title: The role of socioeconomic status in predicting language, social, and cognitive outcomes: New insights from multisensory skills

Health disparities (including poor language, social, and cognitive outcomes) that disproportionately affect children from minority groups, including those from lower socioeconomic status (SES) households, have long received significant national attention. However, which early developing skills serve as foundations for these language, social and cognitive outcomes, when these disparities emerge across early development, and how they can be most efficiently measured, has remained understudied. Disorders of attention (especially in young children) pose a significant health concern; yet, attention has not been studied as a precursor to language, social, and cognitive outcomes in these groups. Basic attention skills established in infancy, including maintaining and disengaging attention, as well as attending to unified multisensory information (e.g. speaking faces and voices), are foundational for subsequent cognitive, social, and language developmental outcomes. Our research team has developed the first two protocols capable of assessing individual differences (individual score for each child) in the development of attention in multisensory environments (multisensory attention skills) in nonverbal infants and young children. The current project, thus, seeks to identify infant attention and perceptual abilities (that become the foundation for later developmental outcomes) in children that differ as a function of SES classification. In addition to revealing a new method for identifying children at-risk for language, social, and cognitive delays, these data will provide a wealth of new information about developmental processes, and how minority individuals are uniquely affected.

Research Interests

Cognitive development, Attention, Perception, Visual short-term memory, Individual differences, Vision science

Postdoctoral Research Associate
Psychology Department

Bret Eschman is a postdoctoral research associate in the Infant Development Lab, within the Department of Psychology and affiliated with the Center for Children and Families at Florida International University. He received a B.S. (2011) in Psychology and Sociology from Illinois College in Jacksonville, Illinois, his M.S. (2013) in Experimental Psychology from Missouri State University in Springfield, Missouri and his Ph.D. (2019) in Cognitive and Developmental Sciences from The University of Tennessee in Knoxville, Tennessee. His dissertation research investigated novel methods for quantifying visual short-term memory in infancy, early childhood and in adults. His current research focuses on developing new methods for quantifying individual differences in infant visual cognition as a function of health disparities stemming from differences in socioeconomic status (SES) that predict later cognitive, social, and language outcomes in children. Specifically, his work aims to identify children at-risk for language, social, and cognitive delays and the factors, such as SES that may contribute to these individual differences.


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