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Researching emotional disorders and development

Prof. Jennifer Lau

We study typical and atypical development of emotional and social behaviour across childhood and adolescence. We focus on why some young people experience more difficulties during this period than others, and what strategies could be used to overcome these difficulties

The REDD lab has now two research branches, REDD Oxford and REDD London. At both locations, our research focuses on three key questions relating to child and adolescent development.

First, we are interested in how nature and nurture interact to influence the developing brain, allowing individual differences in the way that we come to process and understand emotional and social information. For example, we have conducted research into why some children and adolescents are more prone to developing anxiety and mood symptoms than others. We believe that such differences, partly inherited and partly environmentally-acquired may explain why individuals differ in their anxiety-proneness.

Second, we are interested in whether there are particular periods when these symptoms are more likely to emerge and persist. For example, in several studies, we have focused on the transition from childhood to adolescence as a ‘hotspot’ for the onset of particular anxiety symptoms, such as social anxiety – and we try to understand how typical developmental changes in the brain and the social environment may explain this developmental-sensitivity. We are also interested in finding sensitive periods during which interventions may be most successful.

Finally, we are conducting translational research, which looks at how we can better harness our knowledge on the known risk mechanisms underlying child and adolescent anxiety and depression to identify new targeted and cost-effective interventions to alleviate distress and disability associated with these conditions.

Our team

Selected publications

Related research themes