Welcome to the Social Developmental Neuroscience Lab!

Our research program bridges the areas of clinical, development, and social affective neuroscience. We study brain function and social-cognitive processes (i.e., interacting with others) that evolve during adolescence. We build on concepts from mental health research by examining the boundaries between normal and abnormal behavior, to determine how such processes manifest when people anticipate and receive predictable and unpredictable feedback from their peers. We study these processes in healthy adolescents and adults, and those who have, or are at risk for, anxiety disorders. Two risk factors we are particularly interested in are early childhood temperament and exposure to peer victimization.

One way we study these relationships is with functional neuroimaging (fMRI). We image the brain when individuals think that their peers are evaluating them. This allows us to investigate brain function as it relates to social learning, predicting error processing, and fear of negative evaluation. Another focus on our current research uses eye tracking to assess whether anxious adolescents and adults pay more attention to different aspects of a social situation as they try to decide what their peers are thinking and feeling. Results from this work will establish whether paying more attention toward specific facial features predict the ability to accurately "read" social situations, and whether these patterns vary across development or psychological disorders.