In the HERD Lab, we examine biopsychosocial models of the links between socialization experiences, neurobiological regulation, and the development of social-emotional well-being and difficulties. This work encompasses a diverse range of topics. The neurobiological processes we study encompass brain, autonomic, adrenocortical, adrenogonadal, and immunological functioning, and the relations among these. The socialization processes and contexts we study include family relationships, family structure and parenting behavior; peer behaviors and relationships; living in poverty or economic hardship; culture and ethnicity; and discrimination experiences associated with having one or more ethnic, racial, cultural, gender and/or sexual identity characteristics that are not considered “majority.” We examine these in relation to many topics: the development of physiological, emotional, behavioral and cognitive self-regulation; empathy, sympathy, compassion, prosocial behavior and altruism; play, peer engagement and social competence; depression, anxiety, suicidality and internalizing problems; aggression and externalizing problems; and substance use. We study these topics in the lab, in homes, in schools, and in other settings; we utilize observational procedures, behavioral tasks, computer-administered tasks, surveys and questionnaires, interviews, physiological assessments, and administrative datasets; and we work in several states of the USA and several countries across the globe.

There are unifying themes that cut across these many topics. We focus on individual differences between children, youths and parents – including the sources, manifestations, and consequences of individual differences – as critical facets of development, rather than being the “noise” or “measurement error” around central tendencies. We examine context as pivotal for providing meaning to measurement, as any given physiological change, emotional expression, or parenting behavior may have very different implications, depending on what it is made in response to or where it occurs. We implement cutting-edge quantitative methods to reveal processes of change and development across multiple time-scales, from seconds to years. And across all topics, this research is focused on understanding characteristics and development as being a function of coordinated processes at multiple levels, within the individual, between social partners, and across social, cultural and structural settings.

Interested in Participating?

We are currently recruiting adolescents to take part in our Decision Making Study. This is a single-visit project, which means we are looking at the types of decisions made by adolescents under one set of conditions in the lab.  For this project we are recruiting teenagers aged 13-16. This study involves each adolescent and his or her parent making one visit to our laboratory at UC Davis’s Center for Mind and Brain.  Both the adolescent and parent will be asked to complete a few questionnaires, then the adolescent will play two computer games that involve decision making tasks. As a way to thank families for their time, participants will be compensated with cash valuing at $40: $35 for the teenager’s participation and $5 for the parent’s.

This research project is being done in order to learn more about the types of decisions that adolescents make and why. It is not meant to change behavior or help with problems. We are not qualified to offer you those kinds of services, and are not trained to give advice on what parents should or shouldn’t do with their children.