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The Laboratory of Early Experiences and Development (LEED) is directed by Dr. Johanna Bick, assistant professor in the Clinical and Developmental Behavioral Cognitive Neuroscience (DCBN) divisions of the psychology department at the University of Houston. LEED's work builds off a well established body of research showing that early adverse events are common, and when experienced in the first years of life, can have a lasting impact on cognitive, emotional, and social development.

Our goal at LEED is to delineate the specific impact of these experiences on underlying neurodevelopmental systems related to areas of risk. To test our questions, we use a variety of methods to measure the brain (EEG, MRI, and recently fNIRS) and central/peripheral nervous systems (HPA axis, ANS), and we conduct in-depth assessments of emotional, cognitive and social functioning.

The first years of life represent a period of heightened neurodevelopmental plasticity. For our work, this suggest that the early years of life represent a "window of vulnerability", in that early adverse experiences may lead to problematic brain and behavioral development. At the same time, these years also represent a "window of opportunity", such that early intervention may be most effective if delivered during this highly sensitive phase of development. Some of our work shows that intervention programs, especially when delivered early in life, can have a lasting positive impact on children exposed to early adverse conditions.

See our projects and publications pages to learn more about our work!