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Faculty in Focus - Brenda Lundy Jackson

Brenda Lundy Jackson joined IPFW’s Department of Psychology in 1999. She specializes in developmental psychology and runs a child development and family research lab on campus. She is currently researching parental contributions to children's early cognitive and social–emotional development.

Lundy became interested in psychology after her first undergraduate course in the subject. Although fascinated with the diversity of the field, she was particularly drawn to developmental psychology after taking an honors course in experimental child psychology. As a graduate student, she trained in infant perceptual development; however, her experiences following graduate school had the greatest impact on her current program of research.

In 1992, Lundy relocated to Florida for a post doctoral position in an infant development lab at Florida International University. There, Lundy worked in collaboration with Drs. Lorraine Bahrick, Janat Parker, Robyn Fivush, and Mary Levitt, on a project designed to explore the effects of stress on preschool children’s recall of events surrounding Hurricane Andrew, which had devastated the area shortly before Lundy moved to Florida.

Preschool children recalled an impressive amount of information about this meaningful real-world event, but four-year-olds remembered significantly more information than three-year-olds. Interestingly, the relation between stress and memory was curvilinear, with the greatest recall by children who experienced a moderate level of storm severity.

Lundy then worked at the University of Miami Medical School with Dr. Tiffany Field, where she oversaw a research team that investigated the impact of maternal depression on children's early development. In one study, newborns of depressed mothers showed a biochemical profile similar to their depressed mothers, suggesting that newborns may be affected prenatally by their mothers' depression. Follow up research also revealed that depressed mothers, compared to non-depressed mothers, demonstrated less optimal (either withdrawn or intrusive) interaction styles with their infants. These interaction profiles predicted delays in children's language, cognitive, and social-emotional development. Observing how differences in parent-child interactions impact children's early development contributed to Lundy's current program of research (See her Faculty in Focus video for more on Lundy’s current research in studying mother’s and father’s interactions with their children and how it is related to children’s attachment formation.)

At IPFW, Lundy runs the Child Development and Family Research Lab with her students, who are involved in all aspects of the research. Her students assist with the sessions, code videotaped interactions, perform data analyses, present research at professional conferences, and in some cases, serve as coauthors on publications. Undergraduate research experiences contribute to students' success in acceptance into graduate programs. Two of Lundy's students, Gracee Fyfe and Samantha Anderson, won first place at the 18th Annual IPFW Undergraduate Research and Creative Endeavor Symposium and were also the recipients of the Sigma Xi Student Research Award last year. In addition Fyfe is a coauthor on a paper recently accepted for publication in the academic journal, Social Development.   

Lundy is currently conducting research on parental 'mind-mindedness,' or a parent's tendency to perceive his or her child as an individual with independent mental processes. Parents who are more mind-minded demonstrate higher quality interactions with their children who, in turn, demonstrate higher levels of social understanding.

Picture of the StudyLundy is also currently working on a new project, in collaboration with Katie Malanson, visiting lecturer of psychology, designed to investigate the role of parental mind-mindedness in toddlers' early understanding of self and others. The results of this project will be used as a pilot study for a National Science Foundation (NSF) grant proposal. Lundy's long-term goals are to extend her research to parent-child dyads who may benefit from intervention techniques designed to promote higher quality interactions and, in turn, more positive developmental outcomes.

To learn more about Lundy’s research, watch her Faculty in Focus video. For more on how to get involved in research on campus or information on the psychology department, contact Lundy or the Department of Psychology.