My thesis looked at memory development in individuals with Down syndrome (DS) across their lifespan. My supervisor, Dr Richmond and I have just completed a study that looked at memory functions in pre-schoolers with DS. We found that pre-schoolers with DS performed equivalently to typically-developing children, when they were matched on mental, not chronological age. Our results showed that the disability-specific memory deficits documented in adults with DS are not yet evident in the preschool years, and suggests that early childhood may be a critical time frame for targeted early intervention.
I am interested in the development of empathy within infancy and early childhood. Empathy is thought to consist of a number of interacting processes and abilities, which allow us to share, understand and respond to another’s emotional state. My research focuses on one basic process of empathy – our tendency to share other’s emotional states by rapidly mimicking their facial expressions. I am interested in how rapid facial mimicry develops during the first year of life, and how this basic process of empathy might contribute to more complex empathic abilities (such as perspective taking) in preschoolers.
What was your research topic?
Mental Time Travel in Anxiety Disorders
Why did you choose to pursue developmental psychology?
Children are fascinating. While my research is currently in adults, I am doing the foot work to be able to research the same area in children. Anxiety disorders are the fastest growing disorder in children.
What is your favourite ice cream flavour?
If you could meet any celebrity who would it be?
What is your favourite Disney movie?
The Little Mermaid