Psychology
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Psychology

Developmental Psychology Research Group

The Developmental Psychology Research Group comprises researchers dedicated to the understanding of human development. Research focuses on the psychological and neurocognitive underpinnings of Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD), issues that affect the development of children's memory, and the social and emotional development of young children.

Research Interests

Within the Autism Research Group Professor Boucher's work explores aspects of memory in relation to learning and language in intellectually able and intellectually disabled individuals on the autism spectrum. Professor Boucher has written seminal reviews as well as empirical papers on memory and language in ASD.

Professor Bowler has a large programme of research examining the patterning of memory processes in intellectually high functioning people with ASD. The theoretical insights gained from this work have directly contributed to collaborations with Dr Katie Maras of the University of Bath on eyewitness testimony in people with ASD and with Professor Patricia Howlin of the Institute of Psychiatry, King's College London, on the impact of ageing on memory in people with ASD.

Dr Gaigg's work focuses on learning and memory as well as emotion related processes in ASD. His programme of research has shown that the emotional salience of events modulates a wide range of cognitive processes including learning and memory differently in this disorder, which has wide reaching implications for developmental theories of the condition.

Dr Lind's research focuses on cognitive processes in children and adults with ASD.  Her recent ESRC funded project has focussed on episodic future thinking, spatial navigation and related abilities.

Research by Professor Howe examines the development of autobiographical memory, the development of proximate mechanisms of an adaptive memory system, the positive consequences of false memories, and reasoning-remembering relationships.

Research by Professor Howe and Dr Knott examines factors that influence true and false memory development in children. This research involves a number of projects examining memory abnormalities in traumatised and maltreated children, the development of adaptive memory, the genesis of false memories, and the implications this has for eyewitness testimonies and the law.

A number of the projects have been funded by government research council grants, with the most recent examining the more positive consequences of false memories, and their ability to prime the solutions to analogical reasoning tasks.

Research by Dr Todd and her PhD student, Sara Thommessen, evaluates therapeutic interventions for asylum-seeking and refugee children, youth and mothers of young babies who have experienced trauma in their country of origin and who face additional difficulties in European host-societies. This work has been funded by grants from the Jacobs Foundation and the International Society for the Study of Behavioural Development, Signe and Ane Gyllenberg Foundation of Sweden, and the Big Lottery Fund, UK.

Achievements and News

Research conducted by the Developmental Psychology Research Group has been published in a number of leading international journals, books, and special editorial pieces, and. The work has been supported by substantial funding from government and charity research council grants. A sample of news and noteworthy activities and achievements from the group are listed below.

Publications

  • Boucher, J., Mayes, A. & Bigham, S. (2012). Memory in autistic spectrum disorder. Psychological Bulletin, 138, 438-456.
  • Boucher, J. (2012). Structural language in autistic spectrum disorder - characteristics and causes. Journal of Child Psychiatry and Psychiatry, 53, 219-233.
  • Boucher, J., & Bowler, D. (Eds.) (2011). Memory in autism: Theory and evidence. New York: Cambridge University Press.
  • Gaigg, S. B. (2012). The interplay between emotion and cognition in autism spectrum disorder: implications for developmental theory. Frontiers in Integrative Neuroscience, 4, 113.
  • Gaigg, S. B., Bowler, D. M. & Gardiner, S. B. (in press). Episodic but not semantic order memory difficulties in autism spectrum disorder: evidence from the historical figures task.
  • Howe, M. L. (forthcoming, 2015). An adaptive view of memory development. In R. M. Lerner (Ed.), Handbook of child psychology and developmental science (7th Edition), L. Liben and U. Mueller (Volume Eds.), Volume 2: Cognitive Processes. New York: Wiley.
  • Howe, M. L. (2011). The Nature of Early Memory: An Adaptive Theory of the Genesis and Development of Memory. New York: Oxford University Press.
  • Howe, M. L., Garner, S. R., Charlesworth, M., & Knott, L. M. (2011). A brighter side to memory illusions: False memories prime children's and adults' insight-based problem solving. Journal of Experimental Child Psychology, 108, 383-393.
  • Howe, M. L., Goodman, G. S., & Cicchetti, D. (Eds.) (2008). Stress, Trauma, and Children's Memory Development: Neurobiological, Cognitive, Clinical, and Legal Perspectives. New York: Oxford University Press.
  • Howe, M. L., Threadgold, E., Norbury, J. V., Garner, S. R., & Ball, L. J. (2013). Priming children's and adults' analogical problem solutions with true and false memories. Journal of Experimental Child Psychology, 116, 96-103.
  • Knott, L. M., Howe, M. L., Wimmer, M. C., & Dewhurst, S. A. (2011). The development of automatic and controlled inhibitory retrieval processes in true and false recall. Journal of Experimental Child Psychology, 109, 91-108.
  • Lind, S. E., Williams, D. M., Bowler, D. M., & Peel, A. (in press). Episodic memory and episodic  future thinking impairments in high-functioning autism spectrum disorder: An underlying difficulty  with scene construction or self-projection? Neuropsychology.
  • Lind, S. E., Bowler, D. M., Williams, D. M., Peel, A., & Raber, J. (in press). Spatial navigation impairments among intellectually high-functioning adults with autism spectrum disorder: Exploring relations with theory of mind, episodic memory, and episodic future thinking. Journal of Abnormal Psychology.
  • Lind, S. E., & Bowler, D. M. (2010).  Episodic memory and episodic future thinking in adults with autism. Journal of Abnormal Psychology, 119(4), 896-905.
  • Massand, E., Jemel, B., Mottron, L. & Bowler, D. (2013). ERP correlates of recognition memory in autism spectrum disorder. Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders, 43, 2038-2047.
  • Thijssen, J., Otgaar, H., Howe, M. L., & de Ruiter, C. (2013). Emotional true and false memories in children with callous-unemotional traits. Cognition and Emotion, 27, 761-768.

Grants

  • Economic and Social Research Council UK: "Investigating prospection, imagination and navigation in individuals with autism spectrum disorder". Grant awarded to cover 2010- 2013 (£351,000 for 3 years RES-062-23-2192; Sophie Lind, Principal Investigator, Dermot Bowler, Co-investigator).
  • Medical Research Council UK: CASE studentship on ageing in autism. 2013-2017, (£102,717 for four years, MR/KO16911, Principal investigator, Dermot Bowler, Patricia Howlin, Carol Povey, Co-investigators).
  • Economic and Social Research Council UK: "The development of priming analogical reasoning using true and false memories." Grant awarded to cover 2012-2015 (£480,000 for 3 years RES-062-23-3327; Mark L. Howe, Principal Investigator; L. J. Ball, Co-investigator).
  • Economic and Social Research Council UK: "The development of children's false memories." Grant awarded to cover 2007-2010 (£375,000 for 3 years; RES-062-23-0452; Mark L. Howe, Principal Investigator).
  • National Institute of Mental Health, USA: "Memory processes in abused and neglected children." (Mark L. Howe, Dante Cicchetti, and Sheree Toth Principal Investigators).  Grant awarded to cover 2004-2009 ($1.54 million US/for 5 years; RO1-MH068413-01A1).

Teaching

Specialist 3rd year elective modules are delivered by our Developmental Psychology Research Group and highlight our expertise in above mentioned research fields.

  • Approaches to Autism: Led by Professor Bowler, this elective module provides students with the opportunity to learn about Autism, gaining an insight in to diagnostic characteristics of autistic spectrum disorders, associated cognitive and social deficits and various psychological approaches to autism.
  • Memory and the Law: Delivered by Professor Howe and Professor Conway, this elective module examines the role memory plays as evidence in legal proceedings.
  • Social and Emotional Development: The Early Years, Delivered by Dr Todd.  The course covers children's social and emotional development in the early years and expands to consider the ways that identity is constructed through middle childhood and adolescence.
  • Cognitive Development: Led by Sophie Lind,This elective module explores theories of and research into typical and atypical cognitive development.

Members of the Developmental Psychology Research Group

Staff: Jill Boucher, Dermot Bowler, Sebastian Gaigg, Mark L. Howe, Lauren Knott, Sophie Lind, Brenda Todd Research Staff: Sarah Garner, Emma Threadgold
PhD Students: Alida M. Acosta, Sophie Anns, Amanda Green, Anna Lambrechts, Melanie Ring, Claire Thomas Derwent, Sara Thommessen

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