The Early Learning Lab, Auckland (ELLA) is a research group let by Associate Professor Annette Henderson at the University of Auckland, School of Psychology. Our research focuses on understanding how babies, toddlers and young children learn and understand the world around them. Many of our current studies focus on the development of children’s abilities to work together with other people and how early experiences and biology work together to shape the development of cooperation across early childhood. Investigating the development of cooperation is an important context for research because most of our everyday functioning relies on our abilities to work with others to attain shared goals.

Our studies often involve playing interactive games, watching videos, solving puzzles, or discussions about actions and events they’ve observed. We are currently running a number of major government-funded projects, and support the research of Honours and Postgraduate students, who design and carry out smaller-scale projects.


“Learning about learning: Ella’s window into the developing mind”



The aim of our world-renowned research is to better understand infant and child development based on groups of children rather than on individuals. In our published works, our findings may be a source of practical information for clinicians, teachers, and parents who work with children, including children with disabilities. We aim to better understand the world of our society’s youngest members, and hope that in so doing we might be able to make their world a better place.

If you would like to be involved, complete a register your interest form, or visit our FAQs page to find out more about how our sessions are run, and what happens during a specific study.