LEaP First Month Update

Now that I am back from studying abroad in Spain and on-campus once again, the Learning, Emotion, and Personality (LEaP) project has gained a lot of momentum! We have been working in the lab to finalize our protocol for the NEPSY, a neuropsychological assessment, as well as the associative learning task where we will be collecting physiological data. The NEPSY has two portions: Affect Recognition and Theory of Mind. In the Affect Recognition half, we are interested in seeing if adolescents will be able to recognize what emotion someone is feeling based on a picture of their face and then if they can match two faces expressing the same emotion. What we’ve learned while training on this task is that it is a lot more difficult than it seems, so I’m excited to see what we find when we start running it with participants! In the Theory of Mind half, we are interested in seeing if participants can infer what others may be thinking and feeling. For instance, there is a picture of a girl who’s back is towards the camera holding a baseball glove, and there’s a house near her with a window shattered. You then have to guess whether she’s feeling happy, sad, angry etc. It is really easy to see how people might think that she was angry and purposefully threw the ball to break the window, but the more common answer is actually that it was an accident and she is feeling bad. Thus, this is a good example of the subtle way that people’s minds may work differently and how easy it is to falsely attribute hostility to other people’s actions.

So, I am excited to say that with our protocol all set up, we have begun training our lab on the task. I’ve been lucky to have the help of two research assistants and one graduate student, who are all just about ready now to run participants. The clear next step for us is recruitment, or finding the participants we actually are hoping to include in our sample. This is a little tricky with LEaP because we are hoping to have a participants with both internalizing and externalizing traits so we can really examine the full spectrum of trait fearfulness to fearlessness. However, we are hoping to achieve our goal by recruiting specifically from behavioral health center in the Williamsburg area. In addition, we have just sent out messages to the local school systems and participants in the age range that we have run on previous studies in the Raposa lab. So luckily, we have already had about 30 people show interest in our study, and we are excited to have our first participants coming in next week! In next months update, I’ll be excited to share how data collection goes for us.


  1. djmcneil says:

    What a great experience to be able to be involved in the conception, recruitment, and analysis portion of the project. So excited to see what you find. I’m sure there are a ton of applications to clinical and cognitive settings in your research. The fact that 30 participants are already interested is phenomenal. Congrats on a great start – and welcome back from Spain!

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