I am interested in the development of infant attention. I study it by examining infants behavior in tasks known to elicit attention. This includes attention to visual patterns, effects of television media on attention, and the role of attention in infant recognition memory—especially to faces. I also am interested in how brain development and attention development have parallel courses in infants. So I use MRI recording to get measures of infant brain structure, and use that to look at brain neuroanatomy, realistic models of the brain for ERP analysis, and for brain development. I also use measures of heart rate as an index of attentiveness, and use EEG to record brain activity. I am the principal investigator on the research grants that fund the lab, and am responsible for the overall scientific operations of the USC Infant Lab. I hope to do this for several more years. I have a B.A from Biola College (1976), M.A. from the California State University at Fullerton (1978), and Ph.D. In developmental psychology from the University of California, Los Angeles (1982).
I earned my B.Sc. and M.Sc. degrees in Cognitive Developmental Psychology at the University of Milano-Bicocca (Italy), focusing my interests on the neural and cognitive development of infants and children. After a year of internship, in which I have gained experience in conducting clinical research with pediatric populations (e.g., ADHD, ASD), I have been selected for the PhD program in Experimental Psychology, Linguistic, and Cognitive Neuroscience at the University of Milano-Bicocca (2014-2017). My PhD research topic was about the role of early experience on shaping face and emotional processing abilities in infants and children, through the use of eye-tracking and electrophysiological techniques (i.e., ERP and ssVEP). I joined JER infant lab as Post Doctoral Fellow in March 2018. Currently I am working on studying neural correlates of face processing in infancy, dealing with typically developing infants and high-risk ASD siblings. I am also interested in learning and applying Current Density Reconstruction (CDR) analysis of the ERP components using realistic head models.
I attended the University of South Carolina and Francis Marion University where I received a Bachelor of Science in Psychology in 1998. I joined the USC Infant Lab in 2000 as lab manager and research associate. I am the primary contact for all the parents contacting the lab. As a part of the research team, I oversee most administrative aspects of the lab and assist in supervising and training lab personnel. Other responsibilities include the recruitment and scheduling of participants, as well as assisting Dr. Richards and all postdoctoral/graduate student researchers with running their experiments. I’m responsible for administering the physiological recording of heart rate, eye movement, EEG and MRI in various experiments and assist in the editing of data.