Joan Christodoulou | Infant & Child Development, Claremont Graduate University
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Infant & Child Development, Claremont Graduate University

During my graduate studies at CGU, I investigated the development of spatial abilities. Specifically, mental rotation (MR) involves the ability to predict the shape of an object rotated in space. Since the 1970s, research on MR has confirmed a sex difference as men consistently outperform women. In the study of the development of this cognitive ability, evidence for a sex difference in task performance has been reported as early as three months of age (Moore & Johnson, 2011). One of my early studies examined the influence of stimulus type on infant MR performance. Investigating the development of this skill is important for understanding developmental disorders that involve abnormal spatial processing such as Williams Syndrome and dyslexia.

I also studied mood congruity effects on episodic memory. Although these have been reported extensively in adults, they have not been reported for children younger than 10 years. We investigated mood congruity effects in story recall using an embodied approach to mood induction involving a facial manipulation task with 3- and 4-year-old children. Our results extended mood congruity effects to 3- and 4-year olds, suggesting that at this age representations of emotion interact with basic memory processes. Moreover, the efficacy of reenactment of sensorimotor components of emotion in modifying mood was consistent with embodied representation of emotion during early childhood.