Welcome!

The LDN is directed by Dr. Suzy Scherf, Associate Professor of psychology at Penn State University.

We are interested in the typical and atypical development of face processing, particularly as it relates to adolescence and autism.

 

"My core interests lie in understanding how children and adolescents perceive and interpret social signals and how emerging functional specificity of the developing brain supports this process"

DASH is a project in the LDN funded by the NIMH. We use fMRI to investigate changes in the face processing system as kids and teens progress through puberty.

SAGA is a project in the LDN funded by the NIMH. We are developing an at-home video game as a social intervention for adolescents diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder. 

LAB NEWS

October 4, 2021

Graduate student Jason Griffin, Dr. Scherf, Dr. Charles Geier, and Dr. Joshua Smyth recently published a paper showing that our novel serious game intervention for the SAGA project was effective in improving eye gaze processing in adolescents on the autism spectrum.

Penn State News also wrote an article about this work, which can be found here.

Great work, team!

August, 2021

Congratulations to Dr. Junqiang (Jacob) Dai on successfully completing his PhD dissertation defense! Jacob is now working on his postdoctoral research fellowship at University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, where he is working under Dr. Kristen Lindquist and Dr. Eva Telzer to use longitudinal methods and computational neuroscience to investigate adolescents’ brain development and how it relates to substance use. During his time at LDN, Jacob worked on the DASH project

You'll be missed, Jacob!

August, 2021

Congratulations to Postdoctoral Research Associate Dr. Chaia Flegenheimer on beginning her new role as Associate Professor! Chaia is now teaching classes through the Psychology Department at Landmark College, which is a private college in Putney, Vermont exclusively for those with diagnosed learning disabilities, attention disorders, or autism. During her time at LDN, Chaia worked on the DASH and SAGA projects.

You'll be missed, Chaia!

August, 2021

Congratulations to Project Coordinator Maggie Benda on beginning her PhD in the Clinical Psychology Department at Fordham University! Maggie hopes to use her clinical psychology degree to continue researching the effects of pubertal development on the brain. During her 3 years at LDN, Maggie worked as the Project Coordinator for the DASH project.

You'll be missed, Maggie!

June, 2021

The SAGA and DASH Projects have received approval from Penn State University and the Penn State IRB to resume in-person research. Our LDN research staff are vaccinated and excited to resume in-person visits soon!

Great work, team!

June, 2021

Postdoctoral Research Associate Dr. Chaia Flegenheimer and Dr. Scherf recently published a review paper overviewing the current research literature on autistic individuals' experience in college. The article published by the Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders can be found here.

Great work, Chaia!

March, 2021

Dr. Scherf and former PhD student Dr. Giorgia Picci were featured in an article on the front page of Spectrum News. Take a look at how their theoretical model of a "second-hit" period of vulnerability in autism is used to highlight the importance of conducting research on autism and puberty. The article published by Spectrum News can be found here.

Great work, team!

October 27, 2020

Graduate student Jason Griffin, lab alumni Russ Bauer, and Dr. Scherf recently published a meta-analysis on face recognition deficits in autism. The manuscript was published in Psychological Bulletin and can be found here.

Penn State News also wrote an article about this work, which can be found here.

Great work, team!

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Illustration by Jun Cen

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August 18, 2020

Congratulations to Jason Griffin on successfully completing and defending his comprehensive exams! Jason just completed his 3rd year as a graduate student in the Cognitive Psychology PhD program here at Penn State.

Congratulations, Jason!

August, 2020

Congratulations to full-time Research Associate Sarah Laskowitz on beginning a post-baccalaureate research fellowship at Duke University! Sarah is now working in the Duke PTSD and TBI Neuroimaging Lab looking into the neural basis of shame, guilt, and moral injury in veterans with PTSD. During her 2 years at LDN, Sarah worked on the SAGA and DASH Projects.

 

You'll be missed, Sarah!

August, 2020

Congratulations to part-time Research Associate Nate Field on beginning his PhD in the Developmental Psychology program at The University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill​! Nate is working in Dr. Mitch Prinstein's lab investigating predictors of peer rejection in adolescence. During his year at LDN, Nate worked on the SAGA and DASH Projects.

 

You'll be missed, Nate!

July 21, 2020

Dr Scherf and one of our LDN Graduate Students Jason Griffin recently published a paper investigating the link between decreased visual attention to faces and difficulty interpreting eye gaze cues in autism spectrum disorder. The manuscript was published in Molecular Autism and can be found  here.

Congratulations, Jason!

July 14, 2020

Dr Scherf and members of our lab recently published a database paper introducing a novel set of face stimuli. The FoCuS database consists of 40-second videos that help measure sensitivity to eye-gaze cues. The manuscript was published in the International Journal of Methods in Psychiatric Research and can be found  here.

April 14, 2020

One of our graduate students, Junqiang (Jacob) Dai, received the  Raymond Lombra Graduate Student Award for Excellence in Research in the Social Sciences in recognition of the high quality  contributions his research brings to the social sciences. Jacob received a $1,000 award and plaque. 

Congratulations, Jacob!

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March 17, 2020

The Senior Vice President for Research at Penn State University, Lora Weiss, announced that all face-to-face human subjects research that does not involve direct drug or device therapeutic benefit is to be postponed until further notice, effective March 15, 2020.   As a result, all of our lab-based research protocols are currently suspended. IF you are a research participant currently enrolled in one of our studies, you will be hearing from us directly about next steps. IF you are interested in participating in one of our studies, you can still complete the online screening form (see Research tab) and we will let you know when we can see you in person.

March 2, 2020

Dr Scherf and one of our staff members Maggie Benda recently published a database paper introducing a novel set of face stimuli. The manuscript was published in plos one and can be found  here

Penn State News wrote an article about out this research that can be found here

Congratulations, Maggie!

Nov 8, 2019

Some members of our team got to participate in Radio Park Elementary STEM night, to teach the students a little bit about the brain. We had so much fun. thanks for having us, Radio Park!

Sept 10, 2019

Dr Scherf and one of our LDN Graduate Students Junqiang (Jacob) Dai recently published a comprehensive Meta-analysis examining the link between puberty and functional brain development. The paper was published in Developmental Cognitive Neuroscience and can be found here

Penn State News wrote an article about out this research that can be found here

Congratulations, Jacob!

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