Ilaria Vergari, MSc

Ilaria is a neuropsychologist who completed her Master's degree at Leiden University in 2017. Afterwards, she completed one year of post-graduate internship at the Alzheimercentrum of VU University Medical Center (VUmc) in Amsterdam. At the same time, Ilaria worked as a student assistant for two European longitudinal projects - European Prevention of Alzheimer's Dementia Consortium (EPAD) and Models of Patient Engagement for Alzheimer's disease (MOPEAD), which aims to increase understanding on the earliest stages of Alzheimer's disease (AD) to facilitate earlier diagnosis of mild AD dementia and prodromal AD patients. Starting from September 2020, she will join the Focus on Emotions Lab as a research intern to collaborate on a project on empathy in autistic children. 


Thank you Lisa!

February 26th, 2021

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Today at the end of February 2021, sending our sincere words of thanks and love to Lisa, who is leaving our Focus on Emotions lab. Lisa has been a valued member of our team for over two years and made numerous contributions to the ongoing projects. She is a bright character as a colleague and as a friend, who is always thoughtful and willing to provide support. 


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New project in the works

February 22nd, 2021

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Our new master student Claudia Libbi (University of Twente) aims to design a serious game for girls with autism for a hands-on experience of navigating different (difficult) peer interactions whilst staying calm. Kick off meeting with Els Blijd (lnter-Psy) and Carolien ( Human Media Interaction , University of Twente) to discuss which steps to take and whom to involve.



How do children with hearing loss “read” emotional faces and social information? New papers now online!

January 5th, 2021

little boy with magnifying glassUnderstanding emotions from other people’s faces and from social situations is essential for daily social interaction. But how is that for children with hearing loss? Can they learn to understand emotions just as easily as hearing children?Through a collaboration between Developmental Psychology, Cognitive Psychology, and Otorhinolaryngology (LUMC and Chang-Gung Memorial Hospital Taiwan), Yung-Ting’s unique eye-tracking studies show that daily "exposure" in the social environment in which emotions take place is essential for the development of this aspect of emotional intelligence. The results are now published in Emotion and Ear & Hearing


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Webinar on Chinese deaf or hard-of hearing children's social-emotional development

December 17th, 2020


On December 17th, the webinar with the China Rehabilitation Research Center for Hearing and Speech Impairment in Beijing (北京中国听力语言康复研究中心) was held successfully. With the common goal of promoting the development and having the same enthusiasm for benefitting the wellbeing of children with hearing loss, this collaboration began in the year 2017, sponsored by the KNAW grant for China Exchange Program. Since then, this collaboration has achieved excellent results, including launching three new China Scholarship PhD projects and largescale longitudinal research tracking the social and emotional development of Chinese preschoolers with hearing loss. During the meeting, ideas on ongoing research and preliminary results were discussed in context with observations made by teachers at the centre.

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Recent & Upcoming Events

December 17th 9.30 (CET): Webinar DHH Children’s Social-emotional Development (听损儿童社会情绪机能与发展)

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November 11th 13.45: Yung-Ting's PhD defense

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October 23rd 15.00: Webinar 'Social Participation Observation Scheme' (postponed)

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Welcome to our new PhD candidate Jiayin Zhao

February 17th, 2021

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Jiayin received her China Government Scholarship (CSC) in 2020 and started in our lab January 2021. She will be under the supervision of Carolien and Boya. Jiayin’s thesis focuses on social-emotional functioning in children with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD). Congratulations Jiayin and welcome.

New wave of data collection in China

November 27th, 2020

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Starting in December, the China project team (Qi, Shannon and Zijian) will collect the 2nd wave of data about social-emotional development in DHH children online. We are once again working closely with the China Rehabilitation Research Center for Hearing and Speech Impairment (北京中国听力语言康复研究中心) in Beijing.

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Maayan has received her diploma for the Research Master (MPhil)

October 14th, 2020

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On October 14th, our star-student Maayan Cohen received her diploma for the Research Master (MPhil), cum laude! Maayan did her research with Carolien and Evelien on empathy in autistic adolescents.

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Who are we?

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Our team is located at the department of Developmental Psychology of Leiden University and at the Human Media Interaction at the technical University of Twente, both in the Netherlands. We work in close collaboration with the ENT department of the Leiden University Medical Centre (LUMC), the mental health organisations INTER-PSY (Groningen) and Curium-LUMC, the Leiden Institute of Advanced Computer Science (LIACS), and TU Delft. Our group is dedicated to examining the development of emotional intelligence of children and adolescents from a very young age; with a strong focus on its impact on children's social development. Besides typically developing children and adolescents, we are interested in the development of those who are deaf or hard-of-hearing (DHH), with autism, or with a Developmental Language Disorder (DLD). Currently, we have an ongoing project on social inclusion at schools that utilises sensor technology with DHH and autistic children. Since 2017, our team has also been working in close collaboration with a centre for DHH children in China.

On this site we will post regular news items about new publications, events, and other important news. You can also read more about our ongoing projects, read about/download questionnaires we have developed, peruse the list of our publications per topic, or learn about opportunities for students to join our team.