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I research the development of attention during infancy and childhood. My research focuses on developing techniques to train endogenous attentional control during infancy and early childhood. This involves work with typical and atypical populations (including infants at high risk of developing ADHD, ASD and genetic disorders). 

Endogenous attentional control during infancy and early childhood
Research is increasingly suggesting that the very early stages of skill acquisition may mediate later-developing individual differences in learning abilities. My research has involved developing new gaze-contingent paradigms to assess and to train aspects of early attentional control in both typical and atypical development. At the CBU I am running a project that uses targeted training to investigate how attentional control, autonomic arousal and learning interact during typical development. I am also involved in collaborations with Joni Holmes looking at how working memory and short-term memory abilities develop in typical 1-5-year-olds, and with John Duncan looking at how individual differences in abstraction emerge during infancy, and how these relate to endogenous attention. I am a collaborator on a training project in Tampere Finland (with Jukka Leppanen and Linda Forssman).

I am also involved in a number of collaborations looking at atypical development. These include projects with infants and toddlers at risk of Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (with Mark Johnson at the Centre for Brain and Cognitive Development, London and Patrick Bolton at the Institute of Psychiatry, London), Autism Spectrum Disorders (with Sue Leekham at Cardiff University) and with Rett syndrome, a rare genetic disorder (with Sue Rose and Aleksandra Djukic at Albert Einstein Medical College, New York).

Key publications:

Wass., S.V., Scerif, G. & Johnson, M.H. (2012). Training attentional control and working memory - is younger, better? Developmental Review 32 (4), 360–387. pdf

Wass, S.V., Porayska-Pomsta, K. & Johnson, M.H. (2011). Training attentional control in infancy. Current Biology 21 (18), 1543-1547. pdf / supp mat / press: Telegraph (UK)Science Daily (US)ABC News (US)Speigel (Germany)Telegraph (India).

hebe stars mockup2  

At the CBU I am part of the Centre for Attention, Learning and Memory (CALM). What is concentration, what can I do to improve my child's concentration, and why do some children find it harder to concentrate than others? See here for an explanation in lay language.

A full list of my publications can be found here.

Click here to download infant eyetracker MATLAB scripts for stimulus presentation and data processing.

And click here for some pointless but pretty figures.