Negative emotion impacts emerging attention biases in infants

Recent research from the CAT Lab to be published in Developmental Psychology looked at how temperament may impact how infants pay attention to social cues, especially emotion faces.  We found that older infants spend more time looking at emotion faces than younger infants. Young infants with low levels of negative emotion were faster to look away from angry faces. Attention, emotion, and temperament have all been linked to anxiety in older children and adults.  This study marks an important first step in understanding how these factors first emerge. 

Read the full report here

Dr. Pérez-Edgar Receives Prestigious Sabbatical Award

Congratulations to Dr. Pérez-Edgar who was awarded the 2017-2018 Cattell Sabbatical Award.

The Cattel Sabbatical Award is a competitive award sponsored by the James McKeen Cattel Fund and awarded by the Association for Psychological Science. The award will allow Dr. Pérez-Edgar to take time away from teaching to study advanced statistical techniques both at The Pennsylvania State University and national statistical workshops. She will apply these techniques to her current research projects which provide rich, nuanced data about how children navigate their social world.

To learn more about Dr. Pérez-Edgar’s plans, please see the Penn State News.

CAT Lab Welcomes Post-Doctoral Fellow

Welcome to Jin Qu who has joined the CAT Lab as a Post-Doctoral Fellow!

Jin joins the team to work on a longitudinal study assessing attention and temperament in infants. During her time in the lab, Jin will assist with data collection across 5 time points as well as lead behavioral coding. 

Jin graduated from the University of North Carolina at Greensboro with a PhD in Human Development and Family Studies in 2017. Her research interests include infant socio-emotional development and the impact of caregiving environments on infant behavioral outcomes.

CAT Lab Researcher Eran Auday Defends Dissertation

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Congratulations to CAT Lab graduate student Eran Auday who has successfully defended his dissertation!

Dr. Auday is a graduate student in the Child Clinical Psychology program. His program of research assessesstress and anxiety in children and adolescents in environments of violence (family, community, war) or as a result of parental-emotional deprivation.

In July, Dr. Auday will begin his internship at WellSpan Health in York, PA.

CAT Lab Researchers Honored by Society for Research in Child Development


Congratulations to Xiaoxue Fu, Leigha A. MacNeill, and Santiago Morales who received Travel Awards to present their research at the 2017 Society for Research in Child Development Conference.

Xiaoxue is a fifth-year graduate student in developmental psychology who is currently leading a study to assess how visual attention to environmental stimuli is related to social behaviors in children. Her presentation for SRCD described novel mobile eye-tracking technology used to assess attention to social stimuli in children.

Leigha is a fourth-year graduate student in developmental psychology interested in the biological underpinnings of the family’s emotional climate. One of her presentations for SRCD explored how children's baseline respiratory sinus arrhythmia moderated the associations between mothers' and fathers' emotional expressiveness and children's observed prosocial behavior, as well as how these relations differed for siblings within the same family.  Her other presentation for SRCD examined how attention biases to emotional stimuli moderated the link between parenting style and child adjustment.

Santiago is a sixth-year graduate student in developmental psychology interested in emotion and emotion regulation in children exhibiting internalizing and externalizing behaviors. His presentation for SRCD explored how temperament and physiological markers of regulation influence how children process rejection and acceptance from peers.

CAT Lab Researcher Honored by Social Affective Neuroscience Society


Congratulations to Alicia Vallorani, first-year graduate student in developmental psychology, whose poster was awarded a 2017 SANS Poster Award.

Alicia and her colleagues examined how temperamental, cognitive, and electrophysiological risk markers combined to potentiate social anxiety symptoms in children between the ages of 9 and 12. Her work was presented at the 2017 SANS Conference.

CAT Lab Researcher Santiago Morales Defends Dissertation

Congratulations to CAT Lab graduate student Santiago Morales who has successfully defended his dissertation!

Dr. Morales is a graduate student in the Developmental Psychology program. His program of research uses psychological, neurobiological, and behavioral measures to study emotion and emotion regulation in children predisposed to internalizing and externalizing behaviors.

In May, Dr. Morales will join the lab of Dr. Nathan A. Fox at the University of Maryland where he will use innovative methods to understand the role of attention and motor activity in social and emotional development.

Congratulations, Dr. Morales!

CAT Lab Researchers Build Mobile Eye Tracker

Image credit: Lauren Ingram

Image credit: Lauren Ingram

Dr. Pérez-Edgar and Phil Galinsky were interviewed about their work building a mobile eye tracker. Traditional eye tracking requires a research participant to remain seated in a single position; however, this new technology allows participants to move while data about eye movement is collected. The CAT Lab intends to utilize this technology to better understand how children engage with their social world. 

To learn more, please see the original article posted on Penn State IT News.

Understanding how attention affects socioemotional development

Dr. Pérez-Edgar and the CAT Lab were highlighted by the American Psychological Association for their efforts to understand how attention shapes socioemotional development. By exploring biases in attention, Dr. Pérez-Edgar and her colleagues hope to find ways in which types of attention may predispose children to social anxiety later in life.

To learn more, please read the original story by Dr. Pérez-Edgar.