I received my BA in Psychology from the University of Wisconsin in 2010 and completed a post-baccalaureate research position at Boston Children's Hospital & Harvard Medical School. Currently, I am a doctoral candidate in the Department of Human Development and Quantitative Methodology with an emphasis in Developmental Science. My research focuses on the effects of early adversity on cognitive and neural development. I am also interested in the development of cognitive control and its relation to anxious cognition in children. Read Sonya's CV or check out her recent publications in Biological Psychology, the Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry,  and the Handbook of Preschool Mental Health: Development, Disorders, and Treatment

Current study: Development of Cognitive Control
Throughout the first decade of life, children become increasingly adept at planning ahead for and complete goals.  The ability to manage activational and motivational resources in order to complete a goal is known as Cognitive Control.  The Development of Cognitive Control study aims to examine two groups of children - five- and nine-year-olds - who we expect to use two very different cognitive control strategies to prepare for the same goal.  To understand why five- and nine-year-olds use different cognitive control strategies, I examine behavioral performance, brain activity (EEG), and executive functioning (a grouping of cognitive skills utilized in goal completion).   If you would like more information, please call or email: (301) 405-8490,

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I earned a dual BA in Psychology and Public Relations from Syracuse University in 2009 and a MS in Psychology from Villanova University in 2012. Currently, I am a doctoral candidate in the department of Human Development and Quantitative Methodology with a concentration in Developmental Science. My research revolves around the social and cognitive aspects relating to children's language development. I am interested in examining the role of parental input on children's language development, children's pre-verbal social and communication skills as predictors of later language ability, as well as the role language plays in predicting later social and cognitive skills. I am currently investigating the role of action-perception coupling and action understanding in communicative  development. Read Virginia's CV or her recent work in the International Congress of Infant StudiesJournal of Child Language and Seminars in Speech and Language.

Current study: Actions and Language Study
The ability to understand and communicate with one’s social partners is one of the biggest developmental achievements during the first few years of life. One example of this development is the ability to understand and interpret others’ actions. The ability to understand actions seems to depend on one’s own experience, and may help lay the foundation for developing language skills. In this study we are interested in how individual differences in action understanding are related to infants’ experience as well as their language abilities. We are currently recruiting infants age 10- to 12-months to participate in this study. If you would like more information, please call or email: (301) 405-8490,


After receiving my BHA in Psychology and Clarinet Performance from Carnegie Mellon University, I completed a 3-year research assistantship at the Developmental Cognitive Neuroscience Lab at Brown University. Currently, I am a doctoral student in the department of Human Development and Quantitative Methodology and a Pre-Doctoral Fellow in the Section on Development and Affective Neuroscience at the National Institute of Mental Health. At both UMD and at NIMH, I am examining how affective stimuli affect the integration of bottom-up and top-down visual attention processes as a function of anxiety impairment across development using behavioral measures, eye-tracking, and EEG/ERPs. Read Sara’s CV or her recent work in Cognition and Emotion and Infancy.

Current study: Emotion Priming Influences on Visual Search Project (EPIVS)
Perceived threat in our environment has the capability to affect attention by either enhancing or reducing attentional capacities, and vary as a function of individual differences in attentional control, anxiety, as well as across development. To better understand underlying neural attentional processes that may explain how threat cues (such as fearful faces) impact attention, in collaboration with the SDAN, directed by Dr. Daniel S. Pine at the NIMH, we are collecting electrophysiology measures (ERPs and EEG) and eye movements during an Emotion Priming Visual Search (EPIVS) in children 8-17 years old, with and without a clinical anxiety diagnosis. If you would like more information, please email:


I received my BS in Cell Biology & Molecular Genetics from the University of Maryland in 2013. I then worked as a research coordinator at the University of Pennsylvania at The Center for Interdisciplinary Research on Nicotine Addiction. Currently, I am a doctoral student in the Neuroscience and Cognitive Sciences (NACS) program. I am interested in the development of the neural correlates of real-world risk-taking behaviors. Specifically, I use ERP measures to study components like the Feedback-Related Negativity and the Error-Related Negativity in adolescents and young adults to examine possible deficits in the performance monitoring system and how these deficits relate to real-world risk-taking behaviors such as substance use and violence. Read Maureen's CV or her recent work in Translational Psychiatry.

Current study: Probabilistic Learning and Risk Propensity
Two ways that we learn to make optimal choices are through making errors and through external feedback.  However, some individuals have a reduced ability to use and integrate these cues, which can result in risky behaviors such as substance use or violence. Some individuals have an increased likelihood to seek rewards, while others have enhanced responses to punishment. In this study, we are investigating how differences in sensation seeking tendencies impact ERPs (the Error-Related Negativity and the Feedback-Related Negativity) during a probabilistic learning task. Moreover, can we use these neural signals to predict risky behavior? If you would like more information, please email: