2015 Ph.D. Behavioural Neuroscience, Brock University
2009 M.Sc Developmental Psychology, Queen’s University
2007 Honours B.A. Psychology and Child and Youth Studies, Brock University
My research combines methods of developmental psychology and neuroscience to study individual differences in self-regulation and executive functioning during early childhood and adolescence. These are times of major development to these skills and times when extensive individual differences can be observed. I record event-related potentials (ERPs) from participants’ scalps while they perform simple computer tasks, and I collect direct and indirect measures of their neurotransmitter levels (e.g., from genetic samples and eye blink rates). Furthermore, I focus on how these neural measures can help explain some of the wide variation in how young children and adolescents behave. For example, why one child has a hard time remaining seated during a time-out, and why another rarely receives a time-out; and why some adolescents consistently engage in dangerous behaviour, while others sail through adolescence without any trouble at all. This is not to say that environmental factors (e.g., family, peers, etc.) do not play a role in these individual differences; in fact, they play a large role! However, these environmental factors can simultaneously influence both the neural factors and the behavioural outcomes. The complex relationships among all of these variables are not overlooked in my research.
Another branch of my research focuses on advancing EEG methodology. Specifically, my colleagues and I have developed a novel method for uncovering the patterns of communication that occur across the brain using Granger causality and phase shifting. Furthermore, my colleagues and I have developed procedures to better record and analyze a difficult, but clinically useful ERP component, the P50.