People

John Spencer

John Spencer

Principle Investigator

John joined the School of Psychology at the UEA in 2015. Prior to arriving in the UK, he was a Professor at the University of Iowa and served as the founding Director of the DeLTA Center. He received a Sc.B. with Honors from Brown University in 1991 and a Ph.D. from Indiana University in 1998. He is the recipient of the 2003 Early Research Contributions Award from the Society for Research in Child Development, and the 2006 Robert L. Fantz Memorial Award from the American Psychological Foundation. His research has been continuously funded by the National Science Foundation and the National Institutes of Health since 2001. His research focuses on the development of executive function including working memory, attention, and inhibitory control. He is also a pioneer in the use of dynamical systems and dynamic neural field models for understanding cognition and action.

Larissa Samuelson

Larissa Samuelson

Principle Investigator

Larissa Samuelson joined the School of Psychology as a professor in 2015. She received a BS with honors from Indiana University in 1993 and a joint Ph.D. in Psychology and Cognitive Science from Indiana University in 2000. From 2000-2015 she was in the Psychology Department at the University of Iowa. In 2010 Larissa received the American Psychological Association Distinguished Scientific Award for Early Career Contribution to Psychology in the area of developmental psychology. She has had continuous funding from the National Institutes of Health since 2004 and is an affiliate of the DeLTA Center. Her research examines processes of cognitive development with a focus on early word and category learning and incorporates neural network and dynamic neural field models

Prerna Aneja

Prerna Aneja

Post Graduate Researcher

Prerna joined the lab as a PhD student of Professor John Spencer in 2017. I worked in the area of Educational leadership in urban and rural India, and did my masters in Developmental Psychology for University of Kent before starting my PhD. My interest lies in the developmental of cultural differences and similarities in visual cognition. My PhD focuses on relating infants’ looking behaviour in the laboratory to real-world settings, in the UK and rural part of northern India. To understand the infants’ visual dynamics along with their parent in the real world, I use head-mounted eye-trackers and cameras with the aim to develop infant-caregiver assessments that could be useful for early interventions, and can be used reliably across social context.

Ellie Johns

Ellie Johns

Post Graduate Researcher

My PhD will be examining the precursors to executive function in early infancy. Executive function is a set of cognitive processes that enable people to plan, multitask, follow instructions, and focus attention. I will be focusing on examining visual working memory and attention control in infants from 6 months to 54months to better understand how executive function develops and factors that may influence this development. Poor executive function is associated with reduced academic achievement, particularly in English and Maths, so understanding how executive function develops can allow us to notice signs of poor executive function much earlier and to implement early interventions. To test this, infants take part in eye-tracking tasks whilst we monitor the blood flow around the brain to see which areas of the brain are activated.

Milena Bakopoulou

Milena Bakopoulou

Post Graduate Researcher

Completing both my undergraduate and master’s degree at the UEA and working in the Developmental Dynamics Lab sparked my interest in children’s research. My previous research focused on novel language learning while children are handling novel objects. I was very interested in continuing my research and taking this a step further. Therefore, I have started a PhD under the supervision of Professor Larissa Samuelson, researching children’s multiple memory processes and word learning. Working in the lab has enabled me to experience multiple approaches while collecting data for my research using eye trackers and cameras.

Nicky Bridgham

Nicky Bridgham

Data Collection Assistant

I joined DDLab team in November 2019. My background is in education – I’m a qualified primary school teacher and have been teaching for 17 years, but recently retrained as a children’s counsellor and plan on combining my role at UEA with counselling in schools. My job title here is ‘data collection assistant’, which might sound a bit boring but it is far from it. I work part-time running sessions with children; so I meet and greet the families, talk them through the study and make sure they are totally happy with everything before, during and after the sessions. I get to meet so many lovely kids and it’s always interesting chatting to parents and seeing how the sessions run. Many of the studies I run involves the eye tracker which is fascinating – we get to see exactly where the child is looking while they watch the programs which have been specifically devised to investigate how children learn new words. I love working here.