Home » Child Development Research – Key Publications

Child Development Research – Key Publications

Key publications on child development from Dr Sam Wass and the BabyDevLab at the University of East London. Full, up-to-date publication lists are available on Google Scholar and Researchgate. Resources for researchers are also available, with articles on methods, analysis and the big picture. An overview of collaborators can be found here. A description of Sam’s current 5-year European Research Council Fellowship project, on how infants’ biological rhythms entrain to the social and physical environment during early life, can be found here.

Key publications

How stress influences attention and learning in children

My research has investigated relationships between physiological stress during early child development. Recently, I have been working on new techniques to model how children’s stress states spontaneously fluctuate in real-world naturalistic settings.

Wass, S.V. (pre-print) The origins of effortful control: how early development within arousal/regulatory systems influences cognitive and affective control.

Wass, S.V. (2018). How orchids concentrate? The relationship between physiological stress reactivity and cognitive performance during infancy and early childhood. Neuroscience and Biobehavioral Reviews. 90, 34-49.

How children’s stress, attention and learning are influenced by people around them

I investigate how stress and attention emerge as shared states during parent-child interaction by recording brain activity and physiology in parents and children concurrently during free-flowing interactions.

Wass, S.V., Whitehorn, M., Marriot Haresign, I., Phillips, E., Leong, V. (2020) Interpersonal neural entrainment during early social interaction. Trends in Cognitive Sciences, https://doi.org/10.1016/j.tics.2020.01.006

Wass., S.V., Smith, C.G., Clackson, K., Gibb, C., Eitzenberger, J., Mirza, F. U. (2019). Parents mimic and influence their infant’s autonomic state through dynamic affective state matching. Current Biology 29(14), 2415-2422. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.cub.2019.06.016

Wass, S.V., Noreika, V., Georgieva, S., Clackson, K., Brightman, L., Nutbrown, R., Santamaria, L., Leong, V. (2018) Parental neural responsivity to infants’ visual attention: how mature brains scaffold immature brains during social interaction. PLoS Biology. https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pbio.2006328

Leong, V., Byrne, E., Clackson, K., Lam, S. & Wass, S.V. (2017). Speaker gaze increases information coupling between infant and adult brains. Proceedings of the National Academy of the Sciences. 114 (50), 13290–13295, doi: 10.1073/pnas.1702493114

How children’s stress, attention and learning are influenced by their environment

These papers examine how noisy and unpredictable early-life environments can affect the early development of cognitive and affective control.

Wass, S.V., Smith, C.G., Daubney, K.R., Suata, Z.M., Clackson, K., Begum, A., Mirza, F.U. (2019) Influences of household noise on autonomic function in 12-month-old infants: understanding early common pathways to atypical emotion regulation and cognitive performance. Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry. 60(12):1323-1333 doi: 10.1111/jcpp.13084

Wass, S.V., Smith, C.G., Stubbs, L., Clackson, K., Mirza, F.U. (pre-print) Physiological stress, sustained attention and cognitive engagement in 12-month-old infants growing up in urban environments.

Attention training

This research evaluates the use of gaze-contingent attention training paradigms in infants.

Forssman, L. & Wass, S.V. (2017). Training basic visual attention leads to changes in responsiveness to social communicative cues in 9-month-old infants. Child Development. 89 (3) 199-213

Wass, S.V., Porayska-Pomsta, K. & Johnson, M.H. (2011). Training attentional control in infancy. Current Biology 21(18), 1543-1547.

Attention and stress in atypical children

In addition to examining the relationship between physiological stress and attention in typical children, we also study atypical populations, such as children with ADHD and Rett Syndrome.

Holding, M., Williams, E., Djukic, A., Wass, S.V. (pre-print). Autonomic arousal and attention in Rett.

Wass, S.V., Jones, E.J.H., Gliga, T., Smith, T.J., Charman, T., BASIS team, Johnson, M.H. (2015). Shorter spontaneous fixation durations in infants with later emerging Autism. Scientific Reports 5 (8284), 1-8.