I am a cognitive neuroscience PhD student in the Cognition and Action Neuroimaging Lab. I research whether having intense interests (also called "special" or "restricted" interests) helps people develop perceptual expertise--that is, better perception of the objects that interest them.
More generally, I'm fascinated by the diversity of human minds and brains, and seek to understand why and how people develop along such different timetables. Even what we call the "normal population" varies immensely in abilities, behavior and brain anatomy, and atypically-developing people are more diverse still. I seek to understand how our brains and experiences interact to determine our abilities--In particular, how individual differences early in life in our perception and motor skills might affect how our cognition develops later.
I am both a researcher and an advocate. I champion research on developmental disabilities and mental illness that is responsive to the needs and concerns of the people studied, and treats them respectfully. Unfortunately, psychology and neuroscience research have much room for improvement in this area, although they've gotten better in the past few years. I also advocate for more respectful treatment of people with disabilities in general, not just in science.
As such, I co-founded #neurodiverseSTEM, a Twitter network for and about people with atypical minds/brains in scientific and technological research, which held a biweekly Twitter chat. You can learn more about NeurodiverseSTEM here.
You can also find me on Twitter and Google+, and I'm experimenting with Medium here. More formal writing, including two book chapters on autism and my undergraduate honors thesis, can be found on my Academia page.
About This Blog
The purposes of this blog are to:
- Describe psychology and neuroscience researchers' findings, what methods they use, and what assumptions and jargon they take for granted.
- Summarize interesting studies in terms non-researchers can understand.
- Ask questions I think researchers should be asking, and suggest ways research can be improved.
- Celebrate the diversity of human minds and brains.
- Advocate for more respectful research on developmental disabilities and treatment of people with developmental disabilities.
- Develop my writing skills.
You will enjoy this blog more if you have no objection to:
- Long posts
- Occasional hyperbole and unfounded speculations
- Discussion of philosophical issues, such as whether current diagnostic labels reflect the real boundaries between conditions, or the nature of disability
- An irregular posting schedule, often with long gaps between posts.
Thanks for reading! Questions, comments, polite disagreement, and links to interesting studies are always welcome.