Combining cognitive neuroscience and behaviour genetics to study typical infant development

Angelica Ronald (primary)
Psychological Sciences
Birkbeck, University of London
Pasco Fearon (secondary)
Clinical, Educational and Health Psychology


The first two years of life are foundational for lifelong physical and psychological health. This project will combine the behavioural genetic twin design, a powerful tool for estimating heritability and environmental influence, with DNA-based methods, state of the art neuropsychological and biopsychosocial assessments. It will investigate the links between genes, brain, and behaviour during the infant years. Only recently are the challenges of recruiting and assessing infant samples being overcome in order to obtain advanced neuropsychological and behavioural assessments. This study will involve sophisticated computational modelling to address fundamental questions about the causes of infant development.


Pain, O., Dudbridge, F. & Ronald, A. (2018). Are your covariates under control? How normalization can re-introduce covariate effects. European Journal of Human Genetics, 26, 194-1201.

Papageorgiou, K. A., Farroni, T., Johnson, M. H., Smith, T. J. & Ronald A. (2015). Individual differences in newborn visual attention associate with temperament and behavioral difficulties in later childhood. Scientific Reports, 5, 11264. doi: 10.1038/srep11264.

Papageorgiou, K.A., Ronald, A. (2017). The Genetic Basis of Psychological Traits in Infancy: Implications for Understanding the Causes of Developmental Psychopathology. In D.M. Williams & L.C. Centifanti (2017). The Wiley-Blackwell Handbook of Developmental Psychopathology. London: Wiley-Blackwell.

Taylor-Colls, S., & Fearon, R. M. P. (2015). The Effects of Parental Behavior on Infants’ Neural Processing of Emotion Expressions. Child Development, 86, 877-888.

Kennedy, D.P., D’Onofrio, B.M., Quinn, P.D., Bölte, S., Lichtenstein, P., and Falck-Ytter, T., Genetic Influence on Eye Movements to Complex Scenes at Short Timescales. Current Biology, 2017. 27(22): p. 3554-3560. e

Genes, development and STEM* approaches to biology
Area of Biology
Techniques & Approaches
GeneticsSimulation / Modelling