INFANT STUDIES RESEARCH PROGRAM

My Infant Studies Research program focuses on infant development, both typical and at risk. For example, the development of very low birth weight preterm infants is one group being studied longitudinally. Foci include, among others, parent-infant social interactions, infants' socio-emotional development, and longterm outcomes. Some of our studies examine the roles of touch and gesture, modality of interaction and communication, non-verbal communication and context in parent-infant interactions. Consistent with my at-risk research program, children’s developing relationships and emotional competence are important foci.

Below are a few examples:

  • Studies of the development of parent-child interactions and the early relationship, including prospective, longitudinal studies, and studies using the still-face procedure.

  • Studies examining maternal nonverbal and verbal communication during social exchanges and play and infants’ and preschoolers’ behavior.

  • Investigation of the roles and functions of touch, including mutual touch. Touch can play an essential role in mother-infant exchanges, and it can be influenced by infant age, and also by the social context. Infants use touch as a way to explore themselves and their surroundings and as a means to communicate, and infants also use touch to regulate their emotions. Mothers use touch to communicate with their infants, and their types of touch vary with their infants' behavior.  Bidirectional effects and influences, including interaction context and modality, are being examined.

  • Studies on infants' self-regulatory abilities, maternal emotional availability and unavailability, emotion regulation and its development, and co-regulation processes are also being investigated separately and within the above themes.
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