Faculty Director
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About Us


Welcome to the C.A.P. Lab at Virginia Tech. Our research focuses on brain-behavior relations, with an emphasis on frontal lobe development in infants and children. Please explore our website to learn more about our exciting research program.


Recent Lab News:

Over the past two years, Dr. Martha Ann Bell, Director of the C.A.P Lab, has received a number of awards and honors for her significant contributions to science and training. Dr. Bell has been honored with the University Distinguished Professorship. This preeminent faculty rank is bestowed by the Virginia Tech Board of Visitors and acknowledges “members of the university faculty whose scholarly attainments have attracted national and/or international recognition.” Another acknowledgment of her impact on the field of developmental cognitive neuroscience, Dr. Bell was awarded the  Virginia Tech Alumni Award for Research Excellence (AARE) 2020.  Additionally, Dr. Bell has been awarded for her exceptional mentorship to young and early-career scholars; the International Society for Developmental Psychobiology Rovee-Collier Mentor Award, and Virginia Tech College of Science Outstanding Graduate Mentor Award were both bestowed in 2020.  We offer our sincere congratulations to Dr. Bell for her prestigious accolades!

Congratulations to our current and former graduate students on their most recent accomplishments! 

  • Dr. Maddie Bruce (May 2022) is now a Postdoctoral Fellow at the University of Utah. 
  • Dr. Tatiana Meza-Cervera (May 2021) is now a Postdoctoral Fellow in the Section on Mood Dysregulation and Neuroscience of the Emotion and Development Branch, at the National Institute of Mental Health in Bethesda, MD. 
  • Dr. Ran Liu (Dec 2020) is now Assistant Professor of Psychology at Bejing Normal University.

Research Interests

We study multiple aspects of cognitive development, with an emphasis on individual differences in the development of working memory and inhibitory control. In our research studies, we focus on attention, self-regulation, and temperament as the main sources of these individual differences. Our most current work is longitudinal in nature and examines the relations between cognition and affect (or emotion) across infancy and childhood. We focus on behavior, as well as developmental psychophysiology, including the measurement of brain electrical activity (EEG) and heart rate activity (ECG). This work is funded by the National Institutes of Health / National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NIH / NICHD), the National Institutes of Health / National Institute of Mental Health (NIH / NIMH) and by National Science Foundation / Developmental Sciences (NSF).

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Lab Members


Laboratory Coordinator; baby JEDI Project Coordinator; BUBBLES Project Coordinator:

  • Leslie Patton, M.A.

baby BEAR Project Coordinator

  • Kylie Wijeratne, B.S.

HBCD Research Assistants:

  • Cheyenne Williams, B.S.
  • Kaitlyn Rasnick, B.S.

Graduate Students:

  • Jennifer Phillips, M.S.  (5th year)
  • Mohamed Zerrouk, M.S. (5th year)
  • Briana Ermanni, M.S. (4th year)
  • Doug Harrison, B.A. (3rd year)
  • Vanessa Diaz Benitez, B.S. (2nd year)

 Undergraduate Research Assistants:

  • Pooja Kalathur
  • Marina Scott
  • Rachel Castro

Participant Information


If you would like to find out more information about our research with infants and children, or if you and your child would like to participate in one of our studies, feel free to contact us:

Leslie Patton (Laboratory Coordinator)
Research Lab Phone: (540) 231-2320
Email: lapatton@vt.edu


Please see the Directions to Williams Hall.

Current Research Projects

From 5-months to 12-years!

Current research projects in the CAP Lab (data collection in progress):

  1. Baby JEDI study --- The central research question will concern patterns of emotional reactivity and emerging emotional regulation skill during development from infancy to toddlerhood. The first four of six total research visits will consist of infant behavioral observation and neurophysiological recordings (EEG).  The last two visits will focus on assessment of toddler behavioral regulation. Pending IRB approval and more information regarding the COVID-19 pandemic, we hope to begin recruiting for initial online visits in the Spring Semester 2022. Funded by NSF.
  2. Baby BEAR study ---
  3. Project BUBBLES ---
  4. HBCD ---

Plus, our ongoing work (data collection is complete):

  1. Cognition and emotion from infancy through adolescence ---  The final visit of our longitudinal study from infancy through early adolescence.  Children have participated during infancy (5 and 10 months), early childhood (2, 3, and 4 years), middle childhood (6 and 9 years) and adolescence. 
  2. Development of inhibitory control during infancy --- Our monthly study  from 5 to 12 months.
  3. Development of executive function during toddlerhood --- Our quarterly longitudinal study  at 15, 18, 21, and 24 months.

Join Us

  • Potential Graduate Students:

If you are interested in doctoral study in the field of Developmental Psychology in general or Developmental Cognitive Neuroscience in particular, contact us for details about our Developmental Science graduate program. Our program is committed to training students as research-oriented psychologists using the mentorship model. For information on graduate studies, visit the Developmental Science web site:

Developmental Science Graduate Program

or contact Dr. Bell at mabell@vt.edu

Recent Graduates

  • Madeleine Bruce, Ph.D. (2022)
    Postdoctoral Fellow, CAN Lab
    Department of Psychology
    University of Utah
    Salt Lake City, UT
  • Tatiana Meza-Cervera, Ph.D. (2021)
    Postdoctoral Fellow, Section on Mood Dysregulation and Neuroscience
    Emotion and Development Branch
    National Institute of Mental Health, National Institutes of Health
    Bethesda, MD
  • Ran Liu, Ph.D. (2020)
    Postdoctoral Research Scientist, Department of Psychiatry
    Columbia University Medical Center
    New York, NY
  • Alleyne (Ross) Broomell, Ph.D. (2019) 
    Assistant Professor of Psychology
    Western Carolina University
    Cullowhee, NC
  • Tashauna Blankenship, Ph.D. (2017)  
    Assistant Professor, Department of Psychology, Developmental and Brain Sciences
    University of Massachusetts - Boston
    Boston, MA
  • Amanda (Watson) Joyce, Ph.D. (2014) 
    Associate Professor of Psychology
    Murray State University
    Murray, K
  • Jess Kraybill, Ph.D. (2013) 
    Associate Professor of Psychology
    Western Connecticut State University
    Danbury, CT
  • Kimberly Cuevas, Ph.D. (Postdoctoral Fellow, 2009-12) 
    Associate Professor of Psychology
    University of Connecticut
    Waterbury, CT
  • Anjolii Diaz, Ph.D. (2012) 
    Associate Professor of Psychological Science 
    Ball State University
    Muncie, IN 
  • Vinaya (Raj) Rajan, Ph.D. (2012)
    Associate Professor of Behavioral and Social Sciences 
    Saint Joseph's University
    Philadelphia, PA​​​​​​​
  • Annie M. Cardell, Ph.D. (2009)
    Associate Professor of Psychology 
    University of Charleston 
    Charleston, WV​​​​​​​
  • Katherine C. Morasch, Ph.D. (2007) (Postdoctoral Fellow 2007-10)
    Scientific Review Officer
    Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute
    Washington, DC
  • Denise R. Friedman, Ph.D. (2006)
    Adjunct Instructor, Department of Psychology
    Virginia Tech
    Blacksburg, VA​​​​​​​
  • Hossam M. (Zaki) Said, Ph.D. (2005) 
    Manager, Ergonomics - Customer Testing Center CTC, Commercial 
    The Egyptian Company for Mobile Services Mobinil 
    Cairo, Egypt ​​​​​​​
  • Christy D. Wolfe, Ph.D. (2005)
    Associate Professor of Psychology
    Bellarmine University
    Louisville, KY​​​​​​​
  • Annie Papero, Ph.D. (2004)
    Head of Lower School
    Sayre School
    Lexington, KY​​​​​​​
  • Jonathan E. Roberts, Ph.D. (2001)
    Professor of Psychology
    Director of University Honors Program
    Georgia Southern University - Armstrong Campus
    Savannah, GA