MOM-COPE Project

Measuring the Outcomes of Maternal COVID-19-related Prenatal Exposure

Research question | How is maternal prenatal stress experienced by women during the COVID-19 pandemic affecting their psychological well-being and the developmental trajectories of their infants?

Synopsis | A network of 10 neonatology units from Northern Italy is involved in this multicentric and longitudinal study. We follow up mothers and infants from birth to 12 months for emotional, social, and cognitive developmental outcomes. Moreover, we explore the role of epigenetic regulation of specific stress-related target genes in mediating the association between pandemic-related stress and both maternal and infants outcomes.

Funding | Italian Ministry of Health; Fondazione Roche Italia

Link to project publications

2-BRAINS Project

2-Brain regulatory attunement: Impact of Neonatal Stress


Research question | How do parents and infants synchronize their brains? What happens to brain-to-brain synchrony when developmental risk conditions (e.g., preterm birth) are present?

Synopsis | This study applies the EEG hyperscanning technique to the study of parent-infant interaction to investigate how the brain of parents and infants couple together and resonate during face-to-face interactions. By enrolling a group of preterm infants and their mothers, this study will highlight the presence of potential alterations in brain-to-brain synchrony in at-risk conditions.

Funding | Italian Ministry of Health; Fondazione Banca del Monte di Lombardia

Link to project publications

SPHERE Project

Supporting Parenting at Home: Empowering Rehabilitation Engagement

Research question | Can we support parents of children with developmental risk or disabilities by engaging them in remote video-feedback supportive interventions?

Synopsis | Video-feedback support for parents is effective to promote parental well-being, caregiving skills, and child development. Nonetheless, the resources needed for extensive video-feedback programs in hospitals or at home are huge and not all families can afford it. The SPHERE projects is a clinical trial on the effectiveness of a video-feedback intervention delivered online to parents of children with developmental risk or disability conditions.

Funding | Italian Ministry of Health (Starting Grant 2019: Dr. Serena Grumi)

Link to project publications

MASK Project

Mask-response in Autism Spectrum at-risk Kids

Research question | Is caregivers' mask-wearing really affecting the ability of young children to elaborate and process emotional signals in face-to-face interactions?

Synopsis | There is a general concern about the short- and long-term effects of mask-wearing by adults who take care of young children. We know that face processing is key to emotional regulation. Nonetheless, we do not know if hiding details behind the mask is resulting in significant alterations of emotional processing in face-to-face interactions. In this study, we explore how healthy infants and siblings of children with autism spectrum disorders interact with adults who wear a protective mask.

Funding | Italian Ministry of Health

This study is a collaboration with Dr. Valentina Riva, IRCCS E. Medea (Bosisio Parini, Italy).

Link to project publications

MEET Project

Maternal Engagement and Eye-Tracking

Research question | How does the presence of children's visual impairment affect the quality of early interaction with the caregiver and parental capacity to read and make sense of their children's communicative signals?

Synopsis | We explore whether (and how) the presence of child visual impairment affects the way mothers behave during face-to-face interactions. We take further advantage of eye-tracking techniques, in order to focus on maternal visual exploration of their children's communicative signals and emotional cues..

Funding | Italian Ministry of Health

Link to project publications

ULISSE Project

Understanding Low-vision Infants' Socio-cognitive Skills Emergence

Research question | How do socio-cognitive skills emerge in low-vision infants who lack access to key visual hints on others' intentionality?

Synopsis | Many of the early precursors of social cognition - e.g., pointing, social referencing, anticipation of others' intentions - strongly rely on visual cues. What happens in infants who present severe low-vision conditions? In this study, we test early socio-cognitive abilities using a remote auditory interactive task of parent-infant interaction.

Funding | Italian Ministry of Health

This study is a collaboration with Dr. Chiara Turati, University of Milano-Bicocca (Milano, Italy).

Link to project publications


How Exploration and Attention Dynamics allow Communication to Arise from Manipulation

Research question | Is infants' visual and manual exploration of the physical world linked with their language and communicative skills? Does parenting environment contribute to the embedding of exploration into communication development?

Synopsis | The use of head-mounted cameras while studying parent-infant interaction will allow us to explore how dyadic visual and manual exploration of known and unknown objects at 18 months facilitates the emergence of language skills at 24 months in full-term and preterm children.

Funding | Italian Ministry of Health

The project is ongoing

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