Cognition, Affect, and Psychophysiology Lab (The CAP Lab)

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:

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. After a remarkable 25-year career at Virginia Tech, spanning multiple schools and departments, Dr. Bell has been honored with the University Distinguished Professorship. This pre-eminent 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 undeniable 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! 

  • 3rd year graduate students, Mohamed Zerrouk and Jennifer Phillips, have successfully defended their respective theses, and have been awarded the Master’s of Science degree. 
  • Dr. Tatiana Meza-Cervera, a recent graduate student (May 2021) has accepted a position as 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, a former graduate student (2020), is now a Postdoctoral Research Scientist in the Department of Psychiatry at Columbia University Medical Center in New York City.

Research Interests

We study multiple aspects of cognitive development, with an emphasis on individual differences in the development of short-term/working memory. 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 are focusing on the observation of behaviors, 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.

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Lab Members


Laboratory Coordinator:

  • Leslie Patton, M.A.

Graduate Students:

  • Maddie Bruce, M.S. (5th year)
  • Jennifer Phillips, M.S.  (3rd year)
  • Mohamed Zerrouk, M.S. (3rd year)
  • Briana Ermanni, B.S. (2nd year)
  • J. Douglas Harrison, Jr., B.A. (1st year)

 Undergraduate Research Assistants:

  • Amanda Dooly
  • Amanda Olney
  • Kate Sinclair
  • Cheyenne Williams
  • Trisha Ravigopal

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


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. Patterns of Infant Emotional Growth --- The central research question will concern patterns of emotional reactivity and emerging emotional regulation skill during the 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.

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 now during adolescence. 
  2. Attention biases during adolescence --- Ran's dissertation study on temperament and the tendency to look toward or away from faces.
  3. Cognitive reappraisal during adolescence --- Tatiana's research on cognition and emotion regulation.
  4. Development of inhibitory control during infancy --- Our monthly study of attention and cognition from 5 to 12 months.
  5. Inhibitory control during toddlerhood --- Our quarterly longitudinal study of cognition and attention at 15, 18, 21, and 24 months.
  6. Mother-child dyad synchrony --- Physiological and behavioral synchrony between mothers and children during toy play.

Plus, our collaborative work with others:

  1. Maternal emotion coaching --- Emotion coaching and child outcomes during early and middle childhood.  With Julie Dunsmore (Psychology) and Jungmeen Kim-Spoon (Psychology). 
  2. Mathematical operations --- Math problem solving with middle school age children and undergraduate math education majors. With Andy Norton (Mathematics) and Katy Ulrich (Teaching & Learning).

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

Recent Graduates

  • Tatiana Meza-Cervera, Ph.D. (2021)
    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)
    Assistant Professor of Psychology
    Murray State University
    Murray, K
  • Jess Kraybill, Ph.D. (2013)
    Assistant 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)
    Assistant Professor of Psychological Science
    Ball State University
    Muncie, IN 
  • Vinaya (Raj) Rajan, Ph.D. (2012)
    Assistant Professor of Behavioral and Social Sciences
    University of Sciences
    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, CPDD Study Section
    Center for Scientific Review, National Institutes of Health
    Bethesda, MD​​​​​​​
  • Denise R. Friedman, Ph.D. (2006)
    Associate Professor of Psychology
    Hampton University
    Hampton, 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