Our lab is beginning research on how children and adolescents are navigating the changing climate. Please contact us if you’d like to be involved in this research!

Our lab applies longitudinal research methods to investigate the intertwined social, biological, and cognitive processes that underlie the development of skills needed to navigate the changing environment. We broadly examine how brain development and social environmental influences interact and impact on social cognitive development during the transition into adolescence.

Current projects

The Navigating Networks study focuses on adolescent social and cognitive development during the transition to middle school using longitudinal social network, brain, and cognitive assessments. As of Spring 2023, we are finishing our first year collecting data from two local middle schools!

International collaboration for replicable brain development

Beginning in 2014, several junior researchers from sites around the world began a project together with the goal of creating replicable trajectories of brain development. Our current project is led by Ann-Marie Barrett, and examines how brain centile scores relate to internalizing symptoms in adolescence.

Young women social cognition study

Does other-oriented social cognition mediate the relationship between low social status and internalizing symptoms in young adult women? Both young women and individuals with low subjective social status have been shown to have a heightened risk of internalizing disorders, such as anxiety and depression. Interestingly, social status and gender have also been linked with altered other-oriented social cognition, such as hyper-mentalizing and increased sensitivity to others. Madison, Valerie, Kate, and Victoria are trying to figure out whether young women with lower subjective social status might adaptively respond to their environments by developing greater other-oriented social cognition and whether this adaptation, in turn, puts them at risk for internalizing disorders. Do you have thoughts on the study, feedback, or questions for us? Email us at vgw@uoregon.edu – we’re eager to hear from you!

Completed projects

ABCD workshops

In August 2019, we hosted an NIMH-funded workshop on using the ABCD dataset to relate brain development to mental health, We hosted another NIMH-funded workshop on longitudinal modeling of the ABCD dataset in summer 2021. Workshop website with resources galore.

Social and digital adaptation to “social” distancing

This 10-week longitudinal study examined how the use of digital technology impacts feelings of social connectedness and well-being in adolescents during a period of increased physical distancing. Get in touch if you’d like to work with us in analyzing the data!

MoM Study

As part of the Center on Parenting and Opioids, this study is focused on examining mentalizing in mothers who use opioids, and how intervention treatments may change the way that the mothers think and interact with their children. Get in touch if you’d like to work with us in analyzing the data!

Tablet Study

Co-created study with local middle school to examine how the use of in-class tablets and digital technology relate to cognition, risky decision making, and anxiety. We collected our baseline measure of data (300 students) shortly before schools switched to remote learning in the United States due to COVID-19. Get in touch if you’d like to work with us in analyzing the data!

Peer influences study

We collaborated with researchers at the Oregon Research Institute on projects using data collected from the Peer Influences study.

Individual Differences in Functional Mentalizing

The goal of this project was to gain a better understanding of altercentric interference (the tendency to automatically compute the visual perspective of other people) and its relationship to inhibitory control and functional perspective-taking. The project used a variety of questionnaires and behavioral tasks, and was conducted on an adult population. We published our findings from this study in 2022.