The ultimate goal of Hearts and Minds Lab clinical programming is to empower caregivers to build fun and rewarding parent-child relationships that are aligned with their family values. We aim to achieve this goal by developing targeted and scalable programs that can improve health, achievement, and well-being for parents and young children.
In addition to creating novel programs, we also consult with service agencies who are interested in addressing identified community needs. All clinical work aligns with principles and practices from the Frontiers of Innovation Network, where Dr. Roos consults on program evaluation.
The BRIDGE program is designed to support intergenerational self-regulation, the effortful control of emotions and behaviour. BRIDGE brings together best-practice therapeutic approaches for building skills in emotion understanding, attentional control, distress tolerance, and communication for parents and children.
Partnering with local agency Wolseley Family Place, we are running focus groups to share our BRIDGE parenting materials and receive feedback from families. Skills topics include supporting children’s emotion regulation, planning for challenging behaviour, family routines and effective limit setting. Based on focus group feedback, we are improving our materials to make them more engaging, easy to use and effective for families in our community.
DBT-BRIDGE is a program designed to support the mental health and parenting needs of mothers with depression who are parenting a 3 to 4-year-old child. This program brings together Dialectical Behavior Therapy Skills Groups with therapeutic techniques to support positive parent-child interactions. Mothers will receive a 20-week therapeutic program, coupled with childcare and food provision, to increase accessibility. Mothers and their children will also be asked to participate in laboratory assessment visits before and after the program to help us understand how changes in maternal mental health, parenting, and neurobiological markers of stress-regulation contribute to child development. This program is funded by a Research Manitoba Operating Grant.
Our work with the Creating Connections/Creando Conexiones project builds on a body of research led by the late Dr. Helen Neville, designed to support children’s cognitive development in families through play, positive limit setting, and family routines. This program was implemented with English and Spanish speaking families from 2014 to 2017 at the University of Oregon. Parents and children participated in assessments of family well-being, cognitive skills, and neurobiological function, in addition to contributing their child’s early educational records. Current principal investigator Dr. Eric Pakulak is located at Stockholm University. Dr. Giuliano is a co-investigator on program evaluation.
We take a multimodal approach to developmental science that includes a variety of experimental approaches based on the research questions of interest. Approaches include observational assessments of parent-child interactions, questionnaires, and behaviour-centric games concurrent with measures of brain activity (electroencephalography, EEG), cardiac physiology (electrocardiography, ECG; impedance cardiography, IC) and stress hormones (salivary and hair samples).
In our BUDS line of research, we are learning how to better support individuals’ abilities to prepare for and cope with stress. This includes the development of challenging laboratory-based tasks that include measures of performance under stress, and the protective role of social support from close family members or friends.
Recently, we have shown that individual differences in brain activity (EEG) during selective attention covaries with cardiac physiology (ECG; IC) in both children and adults. We are building on this research to investigate the importance of cardiac physiology to neurocognitive function for families experiencing chronic stress.
Across studies, a major goal of our research is to understand experiences linked to variability in neurocognitive performance, stress-system function, and well-being outcomes across health, educational, and behavioural metrics. This research includes the pathways through which chronic stressors may alter developmental pathways, the protective role of family influences, and the extent to which these processes may be amenable to change at different ages through targeted interventions.