​​Current Projects

As described on the Background Information page, I am interested in the trajectories of the development of cognition (especially attention) so as to know when, where, and how best to intervene to help children who struggle in school or socially.  My lab is currently collecting data for the projects: 

Studies Involving Infants 

Infants with Siblings with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD)

We are collecting data from infants (3-12 months old) who have at least one siblings with ASD.  Infants come to the lab and perform two visual tasks (to measure novelty preference and reflexive attention to movement).  We collect saliva and fecal (stool) samples and the parents complete a questionnaire.  We are use the saliva to analyze genetic information and the fecal samples to analyze gut microbiota, which can influence the brain and behavior.  We will compare the data with infants of the same age range who have no first, second, or third degree relatives with autism.​ Therefore, we also need infants who have no relatives with autism. 


Genetic and Environmental Influences on Reflexive Attention in InfantsSWKT-Kimball-Tower1.jpg

This study is similar to the previous study with infants who have siblings with ASD; however, we are only recruiting infants from 3-6 months old. Infants in the general population can participate, and there is no fecal sample collection. Instead, we collect a small saliva sample from each of the infant participants. 

ManyBabies Infant-Directed Speech Study 

​We are recruiting babies 3-6 months old. This new study concerns infant preference for the different ways that babies may be spoken to, specifically infant-directed speech vs. adult-directed speech. At the visit, you will complete a very brief questionnaire, and your infant will hear different audio files while we track how long he/she looks towards the speech sound he/she hears. 

Studies Involving Children and Young Adults 

Attention Task Performance in Children With and Without Mild Traumatic Brain Injury​ (mTBI)

For this study, children (7-17 years old) with a mild brain injury (such as a concussion during sports or a fall) will complete several computer-based attention tasks.  The concussion must be have occurred in the past year.  Interested participants will be scanned at BYU's MRI Research Facility and will receive a picture of his/her brain. They will also have the option to receive​ a 3D printout of their brain. We will compare the data with children of the same age range without any history of concussion. Siblings and friends without a history of concussion and who are close in age to the child with a concussion are welcome to participate. 

The Developmental Trajectories of Women with ASD or with the Broader Autism Phenotype (BAP)

Although approximately 80% of individuals diagnosed with ASD are male, increasingly researchers realize that there are girls and women who are in significant distress with symptoms of autism but who are frequently overlooked or misdiagnosed.  To systematically describe this concern, we will ask questions regarding the developmental course of girls and women who experience fatigue after social interactions, social confusion, or social anxiety.  Our project will also provide state-of-the-art ADOS-2 assessment with a score report the participants can take to a provider and a personalized list of resources that may be helpful to participants.

​Performance Similarities and Differences Observed in Children on Sustained and Reflexive Attention Tasks

We are comparing performance on a reflexive (automatic) attention task to performance on sustained (effortful) attention in children 7-14 years old. Siblings are welcome and can participate at the same time (up to three).