Faculty Director
Primary Phone

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:

Congratulations to our graduate students and research staff on their most recent accomplishments! 

  • Mohamed Zerrouk defended his dissertation in May 2024.
  • Jennifer Phillips defended her dissertation in May 2024.
  • Briana Ermanni defended her preliminary exam in May 2024.
  • Vanessa Diaz Benitez received the College of Science "Make a Difference" Scholarship for her dissertation research in April 2024.
  • Mohamed Zerrouk was a recipient of the VT Psychology Awards for Teaching Excellence in February 2024.
  • Vanessa Diaz Benitez defended her master's thesis project in November 2023.
  • Briana Ermanni and Kylie Wijeratne presented research posters at the Occasional Temperament Conference in October 2023.
  • Jennifer Phillips gave a research talk at the Occasional Temperament Conference in October 2023.
  • Doug Harrison defended his master's thesis project in August 2023.
  • Cheyenne Williams, Mohamed Zerrouk, and Jennifer Phillips presented research posters at APA in August 2023.
  • Kaitlyn Rasnick, Kylie Wijeratne, Vanessa Diaz Benitez, Doug Harrison, and Jennifer Phillips presented research posters at ISDP [virtual] in July 2023.
  • Jennifer Phillips, Mohamed Zerrouk, Briana Ermanni, Doug Harrison, Vanessa Diaz Benetiz, and Cheyenne Williams presented research posters at SRCD 2023.


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; R01 HD104945), the National Institutes of Health / National Institute of Mental Health (NIH / NIMH; R01 MH125800) and by National Science Foundation / Developmental Sciences (NSF; 2016919).


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.
  • Reese Burkey, B.S.

Graduate Students:

  • Briana Ermanni, M.S. (5th year)
  • Doug Harrison, M.S. (4th year)
  • Vanessa Diaz Benitez, M.S. (3rd year)
  • Isabela de la Rosa, B.S. (1st year)
  • Alana Hull, B.S. (4th year medical student)

 Undergraduate Research Assistants:

  • Poojaa Kalathur
  • Rachel Castro
  • Nafisa Anjum
  • Jolie Childress
  • Mary Kelleher
  • David Lee
  • Eudora Nordt
  • Rebecca Cuthbertson
  • Dylan Hughson
  • Mila Illijowski
  • Lily Jo
  • Nicholas Kilp

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

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

  1. Baby JEDI study --- Journey of Emotional Development in Infancy --- Emotion reactivity and regulation behaviors and brain physiology leading to development of self-regulation. There are lab visits every 4 months from 6 to 26 months. Collaborator: Washington State Univ. Funded by NSF 2016919
  2. Baby BEAR study --- Behavior, Emotion, And Regulation --- Temperamental reactivity and brain physiology from 6 to 24 months as precursors of developing personality. Collaborators: Washington State Univ & Florida Atlantic Univ. Funded by NIH R01 MH125800
  3. Project BUBBLES --- Babies: Understanding Brains and Baseline Longitudinal EEG Study --- Examination of brain rhythms from 6 to 48 months, with the goal of standardizing resting state recording context and frequency band definitions associated with early attention, cognition, and emotion. Collaborators: Univ of Connecticut & Texas A&M. Funded by NIH R01 HD104945
  4. HBCD --- Healthy Brain and Child Development --- How early brain development is affected by exposure to environmental, social, and biological factors during pregnancy and after birth.  Children will participate from birth through early childhood. Collaborators: 25 universities/Medical Centers across the US. Funded by NIH U01 DA055357

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

  1. Cognition and emotion from infancy through adolescence ---  Children 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

***Dr. Bell will not be recruiting a new graduate student for Fall 2025.

Recent Graduates

  • Jennifer Phillips, Ph.D. (2024)
    Postdoctoral Fellow 
    Centre for Child Development, Mental Health, and Policy
    University of Toronto
    Mississauga, ON
  • Mohamed Zerrouk, Ph.D. (2024)
    Visiting Assistant Professor 
    Psychological and Brain Sciences
    Indiana University
    Bloomington, IN
  • Madeleine Bruce, Ph.D. (2022)
    Postdoctoral Fellow, CAN Lab
    Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences
    Duke University
    Durham, NC
  • Tatiana Meza-Cervera, Ph.D. (2021)
    Health Science Program / Review Officer
    National Institute of Mental Health, National Institutes of Health
    Bethesda, MD
  • Ran Liu, Ph.D. (2020)
    Assistant Professor of Psychology
    Beijing Normal University
    Beijing, China
  • 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)
    Director of Dissemination, ABC Intervention Program 
    University of Delaware
    Newark, DL
  • 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)
    Senior Scientific Review Officer
    Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute
    Washington, DC
  • Denise R. Friedman, Ph.D. (2006)
    Psychology Consultant
    Roanoke, 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)
    Professor of Psychology
    Bellarmine University
    Louisville, KY​​​​​​​
  • Annie Papero, Ph.D. (2004)
    Executive Director, Child Development Center of the Bluegrass
    University of Kentucky
    Lexington, KY
  • Jonathan E. Roberts, Ph.D. (2001)
    Professor of Psychology
    Director of University Honors Program
    Georgia Southern University - Armstrong Campus
    Savannah, GA