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Professor Stephanie van Goozen MSc (doctorandus) Amsterdam PhD Amsterdam

Professor Stephanie van Goozen

MSc (doctorandus) Amsterdam PhD Amsterdam

Professor

School of Psychology

Email
vangoozens@cardiff.ac.uk
Telephone
+44(0)29 2087 4630
Campuses
Centre for Human Developmental Science (CUCHDS), 70 Park Place, Cardiff, CF10 3AT
Users
Available for postgraduate supervision

Overview

Research summary

I am an experimental psychologist and my research field is developmental psychopathology. I am the Director of the Neurodevelopment Assessment Unit and Director of the MSc in Children’s Psychological Disorders. I also hold a position as Professor of Developmental Neuroscience at Leiden University in the Netherlands. I study risk mechanisms underlying antisocial development from infancy onwards, with the goal of developing more effective prevention and intervention programs. My research focuses on the individual factors that attenuate or exacerbate risk for children who experience early social adversity. To that end I adopt an interdisciplinary research strategy, combining observational, cognitive-experimental, neuro-endocrinological, psychophysiological, and fMRI/MRI methods. Before moving to Cardiff, I worked in the Department of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry at the University Medical Centre, Utrecht, The Netherlands, and in the Developmental Psychiatry Section of the Department of Psychiatry at the University of Cambridge. I am currently leading a UKRI-funded study investigating the psychosocial effects of Covid-19 on the mental health and wellbeing of vulnerable children and families.

Teaching summary

I teach on the Level 5 (2nd year) Abnormal and Clinical Psychology module (PS2018), where I lecture on Eating Disorders and Personality Disorders. I also teach on the Level 6 (3rd year) module “Development of Psychopathology in Childhood and Adolescence” (PS3414), where I lecture on neurodevelopment in children and adolescents. I am the Director of the MSc in Children Psychological Disorders and teach on several modules. 

Biography

Undergraduate education

MSc Psychology (Experimental Psychology), University of Amsterdam, August 1988 (cum laude).

Postgraduate education

PhD (Experimental Psychology), University of Amsterdam, June 1994.

Professional memberships

External Committees

Member of the Health Council of the Netherlands.

Elected council member of the International Society for Research on Aggression.

Member of the Editorial Advisory Board of the journal Review of Aggression and Violent Behavior.

Academic positions

2008-date: Professor, School of Psychology, Cardiff University, Cardiff, UK.

2007-date: Professor of Developmental Neuroscience (0.1 fte), Leiden University.

2004-2008: Reader, School of Psychology, Cardiff University, Cardiff, UK.

2002-2003: Senior Research Associate, Department of Psychiatry, University of Cambridge, Cambridge, UK

1998-2002: Senior Research Fellow, Department of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry, University Medical Centre Utrecht (tenured position).

1994-1997: Post-doctoral researcher, Department of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry, University Medical Centre Utrecht (UMCU).

Publications

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Teaching

I teach on the Level 5 (2nd year) Abnormal and Clinical Psychology module (PS2018), where I lecture on Eating Disorders and Personality Disorders. I also teach on the Level 6 (3rd year) module “Development of Psychopathology in Childhood and Adolescence” (PS3414), where I lecture on neurodevelopment in children and adolescents. I am the course director of the MSc in Children Psychological Disorders and teach on several modules.

Research topics and related papers

Children who display antisocial behaviour have a range of emotional and cognitive problems that help to explain the way they behave. They have a tendency to interpret and respond inappropriately to the social signals emitted by others and have problems with decision making and emotion regulation in emotionally arousing circumstances. Being able to regulate one’s emotions successfully is critical for rational decision-making and social adaptation, and a failure to do so is likely to lead to problems in forming or maintaining relationships.

In terms of emotional functioning we study the ability to recognise emotions in other people’s faces. Being able to recognize  distress cues in others serves to inhibit antisocial behaviour. Fearful and sad expressions act as aversive stimuli, and as such play a key role in socialization processes. Antisocial individuals fail to process expressions of fear and sadness appropriately, resulting in ineffective socialization and a greater propensity to cause harm to others. We have developed an online brief emotion recognition training program (the CERT; https://emotionrecognition.cardiff.ac.uk) and found that we can improve emotion recognition ability in young offenders and in children who were part of an early intervention and prevention program. Completing the training had a positive effect on behaviour; it led to crime reduction in juvenile offenders (Hubble et al., 2015) and improved mental health and wellbeing in children who are at-risk of future antisocial behaviour (Wells et al., 2020).

I am a Director of the Neurodevelopment Assessment Unit (NDAU) at Cardiff University (https://neurodevelopment.cardiff.ac.uk). We received funding in 2016 from The Waterloo Foundation to set up the NDAU as a demonstration project that illustrates a way forward to address the needs of children who exhibit early signs of emotional, cognitive and/or behavioural difficulties and problems. In 2020 we received 3 more years of funding to continue this project. We work in partnership with families and schools and provide evidence-based assessments of children who may have developmental problems. We help families and those who work with the children at school by providing them with detailed information about the strengths and needs of the child. 

Our primary research aim is to collect broad assessment data, informed by the RDoC approach (https://www.nimh.nih.gov/research-priorities/rdoc/index.shtml), on a large sample of 4-7 years old children with diverse developmental problems that will enable us to understand the overlapping cognitive and socio-emotional bases of different profiles of children with neurodevelopmental problems. A secondary aim is to feed back the results of the assessment to the child’s referring agent to inform and enhance their continued support for the child. A further aim is to collect data that will in time inform our understanding of the neuropsychological and biological mechanisms that underlie different neurodevelopmental problems. 

Children aged 4 to 7 years come to the NDAU for one morning and one afternoon. We: i) assess general scholastic abilities such as verbal/nonverbal ability; ii) administer cognitive tests of attention, inhibition and working memory; iii) provide research-based socio-emotional tests of emotion recognition, empathy, affect processing, and theory of mind, and iv) ask the accompanying parent/guardian to complete a clinical interview to identify the main challenges for the child (i.e., the Development and Well Being Assessment; DAWBA), and questionnaires regarding the children’s strengths and difficulties, behaviour, and their development and health. The outcomes of this detailed assessment help those who work with these children at school or home select appropriate educational provision and prioritize interventions, and inform any later referrals to educational or clinical services.

Our research in the NDAU has led to UKRI/ESRC funding to study the psychosocial effects of the COVID-19 pandemic and identify mental health problems and support wellbeing in vulnerable children and families (https://neurodevelopment.cardiff.ac.uk/covid). There is an urgent need to understand and mitigate the psychological and social impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic and associated lockdown on primary school children. This is especially important for those known to be vulnerable. Children with emotional, cognitive, developmental and social vulnerabilities can already be identified at primary school. The mental health consequences of school closure, social isolation, increased financial and emotional stress, and greater exposure to family conflict are likely to be particularly pronounced for this high-risk group.

Data from immediately prior to the pandemic are needed to provide robust assessments of the impact of COVID-19 on vulnerable children. The current study capitalises on our NDAU study of 300 primary school children identified by teachers as being ‘at-risk’ for mental health problems. We collected rich social, cognitive and mental health data prior to the COVID-19 pandemic and we now re-assess this cohort remotely during the pandemic and again later in the academic year to evaluate the social and emotional impacts of COVID-19 and identify how negative consequences can be mitigated. We will also be able to assess longer-term impacts because this cohort has consented to life-long health, social care and education record linkage.

Understanding the immediate psychological and social consequences for vulnerable children and families is not only important for research; it is essential for rapid development of policies and interventions to mitigate the mental health problems and provide support to families during and after lockdown.

Funding

UKRI/ESRC Ideas to Address COVID-19 grant. Psychosocial effects of the COVID-19 pandemic: Identifying mental health problems and supporting wellbeing in vulnerable children and families (Van Goozen et al.; £512,762).

The Waterloo Foundation. The Neurodevelopment Assessment Unit 2021-2023 (Van Goozen et al.; £177,222; March 2021-Febr. 2023).

The Waterloo Foundation. Does depression in pregnancy contribute to deficiencies in omega-3/6 fatty acids increasing the risk of neurodevelopmental disorders? (John, Jones & Van Goozen; £51,611; August 2011 - July 2022.

Supervision

Postgraduate research interests

My research interests are in factors affecting typical and atypical development. To that end I study hormonal systems by focusing on hormones such as cortisol, DHEA/S, oestradiol, and testosterone; the psychophysiological response system via, among other measures, heart rate, vagal tone and skin conductance; the prefrontal cortex by studying abilities such as planning and inhibition; and by examining the ability to recognise and regulate emotions. I am interested in the involvement of these processes in typical and atypical functioning, but especially in individual differences in the functioning of these systems under stress. So far, my studies have been conducted with pregnant women, infants, children and teenagers/young adults.

If you are interested in applying for a PhD, or for further information  regarding my postgraduate research, please contact me directly (contact details available on the 'Overview' page), or submit a formal application.

Current students

Dolapo Adegboye

Kate Anning

Matthew Scott

Dide van Adrichem (Leiden University, NL)