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Cognitive Affective Neurodevelopment in Youth Laboratory


​​​The Cognitive Affective NeuroDevelopment in Youth (CANDY) Lab is primarily focused on how early life experiences (e.g., adversity and trauma exposure) influence neurodevelopmental trajectories and adolescent mental health. Our lab is interested in capturing these processes during adolescence, as this is a unique developmental window in which two interrelated phenomena occur: 1) pubertal hormones instigate profound changes to neural structure and function and 2) individuals are at elevated risk for the emergence of psychopathology. We are especially interested in disentangling how specific dimensions of childhood adversity (type, timing, severity, chronicity) influence biological processes affected by stress (e.g., puberty, neurodevelopment). To accomplish this, we measure multiple levels of biology through hormonal assessments and cutting-edge neuroimaging modalities to measure neurodevelopment, including structural and functional MRI as well as magnetoencephalography (MEG). Through this more comprehensive approach to quantifying variability in neurodevelopment, we hope to advance the field's understanding of how specific dimensions of one's biology and environment during development impact risk for psychopathology and adaptation to life. In so doing, this work has the potential to identify novel targets for intervention that could shift neurodevelopmental trajectories toward more healthy functioning following childhood adversity.


Our Research Team

Giorgia Picci, PhD, Principal Investigator​

Giorgia Picci, PhD, is the Director of the Cognitive Affective NeuroDevelopment in Youth Laboratory (CANDY Lab) in the Institute for Human Neuroscience. Dr. Picci is a developmental neuroscientist interested in how early life experiences (e.g., child abuse, neglect, discrimination) shape neurodevelopment and mental health outcomes. She received her PhD in Developmental Psychology from Pennsylvania State University in 2018. She completed two postdoctoral fellowships from 2018 – 2023, both of which focused on using various neuroimaging modalities to capture variability in neurodevelopment as it relates to early adversity and puberty. Her work emphasizes examining multiple levels of biology to answer her research questions, including hormones, s/fMRI, and MEG.