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Melannie Pineda and Jillian Hardin, Ph.D. Candidates, Experimental Psychology

Melannie Pineda and Jillian Hardin, both Ph.D. students in Nancy Jones’ WAVES Emotion Lab, never imagined that their research in experimental psychology would include blowing bubbles and making silly faces at babies.  But, as researchers in the WAVES Emotion Lab, their job is to understand the factors that contribute to the development of socio-emotional wellness during infancy and childhood. They are helping Dr. Jones investigate the physiological and behavioral underpinnings of affective development.

When babies come to the lab – which looks much like a cozy nursery – they are fitted with a little cap with dozens of tiny holes and wires sticking out the back.  The group works as a team – using bubbles, rattles and cooing noises – to distract the babies while the cap is placed on their heads. The cap is connected to a brain monitoring system which essentially maps the babies’ brain waves as they interact with the adults in the room.

Jillian, a 5th year Ph.D. student, oversees the Kangaroo Care (KC) Project, which examines how touch and breastfeeding facilitate mother-infant bonding and the development of optimal physiological patterns in infancy. Her research interests include the effects of maternal depression on infants and the role of breastfeeding and skin-to-skin (KC) parent training in buffering impaired mother-infant communication in these dyads.

Melannie Pineda is a 2nd year doctoral student in the lab. She graduated from FAU and completed her undergraduate Honor's Thesis project in the WAVES Emotion lab. Melannie's thesis project involved looking at the stability of EEG and jealousy responses in infants between the ages of 9 months and 12 months of age. The study she is currently working on examines differences in mother-infant bonding and the regulation patterns of infants across groups of depressed and non-depressed mothers. 

“Current theories and research into brain development note that the frontal lobes continue to develop throughout early childhood. Our goal is to examine the factors that contribute to risk and resilience in the development of emotional response, said Jones. “Individual differences in temperament and social interactive attachments to parents impact the trajectory to emotionally competent functioning during childhood. Our research, funded in part by the National Institutes of Mental Health and FAU seed grants, is designed to explore and understand the contributors to optimal infant and child development.”

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 Last Modified 11/8/16