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Research | Overview

Here in the Nelson Laboratory, we are working to shed light on many questions through a variety of ongoing child development studies. By learning more about brain and behavior development across the lifespan, we aim to contribute to the healthy growth and development of our children.

A child with dark hair plays with yellow and red squares at a table.

Our lab makes use of a variety of methods and new technologies designed to explore the relationship between electrical activity produced by the brain, brain structure, brain function, and cognitive processes. In particular, our work with event-related potentials (ERPs) in infants is a centerpiece of our laboratories' research. A long-range goal of the labs is to determine the "where?" and the "how?" of both memory and face/object recognition in the brain.

A little girl blows bubbles with an orange bubble wand.

In addition to studies on typical development, we have a growing program of research dedicated to infants and children who are either at risk for falling off a typical developmental path or have already been diagnosed with a developmental disorder. Follow this link to learn more about our autism research program. We strongly believe that the knowledge gained through our research will lead to earlier diagnosis, better treatment, and better outcomes for children and families affected by developmental disorders.

Current research projects

Typical Development

  • Emotion Processing in Infancy and Early Childhood
  • Healthy Baby Study

Atypical Development

  • Neural Correlates of Rett Syndrome and Related Disorders
  • Neural Markers in Fragile X Syndrome
  • Mechanisms of change with early intervention in Tuberous Sclerosis Complex
  • A Randomized Double-Blind Controlled Trial of Everolimus in Children and Adolescents with PTEN Mutations
  • JASPER intervention in Down Syndrome
  • Autism Biomarkers Consortium for Clinical Trials
  • Infant Screening Project

Effects of Early Adversity

  • Brain Imaging as a Measure of Future Cognitive Outcomes in Children
  • HEALthy Brain and Child Development Study (hBCD)
  • COVID-19 Supplement - HEALthy Brain and Child Development Study (hBCD)

Completed research projects

Learn more about our recently completed research projects.