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Cambridge Babylab

 
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We are interested in how attentional and motor skills in young children affect learning in everyday settings, such as play between parent and child. This is important to understand, because children with various genetic syndromes often present with attentional and motor difficulties early in development. We believe our research could greatly inform future interventions for children with neurodevelopmental disorders and help us to advise parents and teachers on how to best support children’s learning.

We are looking for young children with Down syndrome or Williams syndrome, as well as typically developing children to visit us at the Cambridge Babylab for a day to help with our research.

If you are interested in learning more about this study, please contact Dr. Hana D’Souza (hd425@cam.ac.uk).

Lab Members Bio:

Hana D'Souza: I currently hold the Beatrice Mary Dale Research Fellowship in Psychology at Newnham College, and I am a Visiting Fellow in the Department of Psychology, University of Cambridge. I am also an Associate Research Fellow at the Centre for Brain and Cognitive Development, Birkbeck, University of London. I completed a Master’s degree with a focus on Clinical Psychology at Masaryk University, Czech Republic. During these studies I spent a year at the University of Toronto. I then obtained an MSc in Psychological Research from the University of Oxford. Subsequently, I undertook a PhD at Goldsmiths, University of London.

Following my PhD, I became a Postdoctoral Researcher at UCL and at the Centre for Brain and Cognitive Development, Birkbeck, University of London. As part of the London Down Syndrome (LonDownS) Consortium, I have been investigating individual differences and interactions between various domains and levels of description across development in infants and toddlers with Down syndrome. The LonDownS Consortium is a multidisciplinary team of human geneticists, cellular biologists, psychiatrists, psychologists, neuroscientists, and mouse geneticists, whose aim is to understand the link between Down syndrome and Alzheimer’s disease, and to identify protective and risk factors that could inform interventions.

Research Interests: I am interested in the development of attention and motor abilities, and how these interact over developmental time and constrain other domains in typically and atypically developing children. My research focuses on infants and toddlers with neurodevelopmental disorders of known genetic origin, such as Down syndrome, fragile X syndrome, and Williams syndrome.

Research Staff

Kate Mee: I am a staff research assistant on the Embodied Attention and Learning project. I am interested in early cognitive development, and research which works towards the optimisation of developmental potential in populations who are vulnerable to developmental delay.

Whilst undertaking my BSc in Psychology at the University of Bath, I took a placement year in the Families, Effective Leaning and Literacy research group at the University of Oxford. Here I had the opportunity to conduct novel analyses into the relationship between early measures of self-regulation and cognitive outcomes. After graduating, I worked for two years as a research assistant in the Developmental Dynamics lab at the University of East Anglia, working within the field of developmental cognitive neuroscience. Within this project I undertook several research visits to a significantly disadvantaged community in North India, investigating the effects of adversity on early cognitive and neural development, with a view to designing targeted interventions.

I am motivated by the potential to use science to inform the real-world lived experiences of individuals, and as such am excited to join the Cambridge Babylab, and to learn more about the developmental experiences of children with neurodevelopmental disorders.

Graduate Students

 

Rhys Proud: I recently graduated with a Bachelor’s degree in Psychological and Behavioural Sciences here at the University of Cambridge. I will then be interning in the Babylab working on the embodied attention and learning project before beginning my Master’s degree, during which I will be further working on the project. My interest is in how infant experiences guide the development of the brain and the mechanisms which may be involved in typical and atypical development.

Lauryna Filatovaite: I am a second year Neuroscience & Cognition Master's student at Utrecht University, The Netherlands. I'm working at the Embodied Attention & Learning project led by Dr. Hana D’Souza to complete my final year internship as well as to improve my knowledge on child development and neurodevelopmental disorders. My goal is to become a professional who is able to bridge the gap between research underlying brain, cognition and behaviour and therapeutic interventions which reduce lifelong disabilities for affected individuals.

Placement Students

Fay Petratou: I am a placement student working on the Embodied Attention & Learning project led by Dr. Hana D’Souza between my second and third year of my Psychology Bachelor’s degree at Surrey University. I am interested in clinical and neurodevelopmental disorders and I have recently participated in volunteering projects in Sri Lanka relevant to neurodevelopmental disorders and special needs, preschool children and domestic abuse.

Undergraduate Students

Sofia Hryniv: I am a third year Natural Sciences student specialising in psychology. I am working under Dr D'Souza's supervision to complete my final year project concerning the developmental shift in face looking observed in children, and how this can vary. My interests lie mainly with developmental psychopathology and the effects of specific developmental conditions on cognition, but I am also interested in the development of potential interventions and how the theory can accurately inform these to ensure the best possible outcomes.

Sophie Truesdale: I am a third-year undergraduate at Cambridge studying Psychological and Behavioural Sciences. I am working on the embodied learning and attention project led by Hana D’Souza as part of my dissertation project. My interests lie in child development, learning disabilities and neurodevelopmental disorders.

Amy Williams: I'm a third year Cambridge medical student doing an intercalated degree in Psychology and working on how motor difficulties constrain learning in children with Down syndrome. I'm still exploring which area of medicine I want to go into but the Babylab research is definitely encouraging me to work with children and the brain.

Alumni

Veronica Capaldo: I am an Erasmus+ trainee working on the Embodied attention & learning project led by Dr. Hana D’Souza at the Cambridge Babylab. I completed a Bachelor’s degree in Developmental Psychology at the University of Padova. My Bachelor's thesis focused on the criteria used for the identification of children with high intellectual potential. I then obtained a Master’s degree in Neuroscience and Neuropsychological Rehabilitation (University of Padova) with an experimental thesis regarding the cross-modal effects of transcranial random noise stimulation combined with action video games on adults with dyslexia or reading difficulties. My interest is in typical and atypical development and how environmental, genetic, and social variables interact and influence the development of the brain.