The biological correlates of cognitive and emotional empathy development
In this Israel Science Foundation funded study we are following children from their first to their third birthdays in order to characterize the developmental trajectories of empathy in a typically developing population. In addition, we are investigating oxytocin and vasopressin as possible biological correlates of empathy development. The hormones are measured non-evasively, in saliva.
Empathy - Biology, environment and parenting.
Children who were exposed to harsh environments are at higher risk for destructive short and long-term effects on physical and psychological well-being, and these effects may be mediated by empathy. In this study we are investigating the effects of harsh rearing environments on empathy in young children, and the biological correlates of these process, focusing on the role of the hormones oxytocin (social hormone) and cortisol (stress hormone).
The role of puberty and sex-hormones in autism symptomology
Autism affects ~1% of children and is characterized by difficulties in social communication and restrictive interests. Autism is more frequently diagnosed in boys than in girls, and sex-hormones such as testosterone have a role in the underlying biology of autism. Puberty marks a period of hormonal change, but its influence on autism is unclear. In this research project we measure hormone levels during puberty and investigate their relationship to symptoms of autism, and social-cognition. Findings promise to unveil the effects of puberty on autism.
Utilizing a unique data set collected at the Autism Research Centre at Cambridge University we are investigating questions relating to risk factors for autism spectrum conditions. The data set contains diverse information collected from adult participants with and without an autism diagnosis.