Children sought for SCU study
CHILDREN aged eight to 13 are being sought for a new study at Southern Cross University into how some kids have difficulty reading faces and body language in social situations.
Tara Kocek, a PhD candidate, and her supervisors Dr James Donnelly, from the School of Health and Human Sciences, and the School of Education's Dr Tony Yeigh are investigating high level, executive brain functions in children and their relationship to social and emotional information processing.
Dr Donnelly said the human brain was typically able to process a lot of information quickly before making a decision to act in a certain way.
"For example, when a person is reading someone's face they unconsciously look at the expression in the eyes, in the mouth, body postures, and maybe the tone of voice, all at the same time. The brain quickly integrates that information so a person can function effectively in a social situation.
"However, some children who function well in most domains, have a specific problem in reading subtle social cues and may feel confused, withdraw socially or even act out if they misperceive what is happening.
Dr Donnelly said difficulties in these areas were well-established in children with Autistic Spectrum Disorders and those who had suffered brain injuries.
The researchers are particularly looking for children who may have already been identified by teachers or parents as having some difficulties in the school setting. The researchers hope to not only identify what early patterns in perceiving and thinking might underlie difficulties but also help develop early interventions that improve social functioning.
"Reports from parents and children have been uniformly positive but we do need more families to participate," Mrs Kocek saidIf you have a child who would be interested in participating and can attend Southern Cross University's Coffs Harbour campus, contact Tara Kocek via email firstname.lastname@example.org