My research focuses on the cognitive and affective basis of adaptive and maladaptive caregiving. I am particularly interested in the interplay between cognitive control and automatic processing in shaping sensitive responsive caregiving, attuned to the child’s internal states and needs.
What are the cognitive and affective processes that enable new parents to understand their infant’s emotions and needs? How do they come online during the transition to parenthood?
How do stress, parental mental health, and infant characteristics modulate the processes supporting sensitive responsive caregiving?
Can certain types of automatic processing tendencies actually act as adaptive resilience factors in buffering against the effect of stress on caregiving and development?
To answer these questions, I employ a range of developmental-cognitive-social neuroscience methods, from reaction-time-based cognitive tasks to observation- and interview-based assessments, to understand how parents process infant-related information and how this processing is related to parental behavior and infant development.
I really enjoy exploring and developing new methods or approaches to gauging how parents understand their children’s minds and experiences! Specifically, I recently created a measure of mentalizing language on social media posts (which can also be used for non-parental content!), and I am developing a measure of real-time parental mentalizing suitable for tapping into controlled aspects of mentalizing and for neuroimaging. Click below to learn more about my projects and some of the new approaches I have been working on.