Dr Emma Blakey

Department of Psychology



Full contact details

Dr Emma Blakey
Department of Psychology
Cathedral Court
1 Vicar Lane
S1 2LT
  • PhD Developmental Psychology (University of Sheffield)
  • MSc Psychological Research (University of Sheffield)
  • BA Philosophy and Psychology (University of Sheffield)
Research interests

Executive functions are the set of high-level cognitive skills underpinning controlled and goal-directed thinking. I am interested in understanding how executive functions develop, how they underpin school readiness and how their development can be best supported.

I am particularly interested in understanding how executive functions develop in toddlers and preschoolers and why executive functions vary along the socio-economic spectrum. I use experimental, cross-sectional, longitudinal and training study designs in my research.

In collaboration with the ABCD lab at the University of Alberta we have also been using ERP methods to examine the neural correlates of early executive function development.

If you would like to take part in our studies with your child, or if you want to find out more about our lab group, please see the Sheffield Cognitive Development Research Group page.

Additional Research Interests:

Temporal Cognition: Our experience of time is notably subjective: it can vary depending on how we are feeling and the situation we are in. As part of my post-doctoral work at Cardiff University, I worked with Marc Buehner, Emma Tecwyn, Teresa McCormack, David Lagnado, Christoph Hoerl and Sara Lorimer to examine how causal beliefs influence children’s and adult’s experience of time.

There is an established finding in adults that events are perceived as occurring earlier in time when they are caused compared to when they are not caused. This is known as ‘temporal binding.’ We have been examining the nature of temporal binding through development. You can read our article on this here, and see a video explaining this work here.

Understanding ASMR: With Giulia Poerio, Tom Hostler and Theresa Veltri we have been studying the affective and physiological characteristics of Autonomous Sensory Meridian Response (ASMR) or “head tingles.” You can read more about our research in our article here and in the news here.


Show: Featured publications All publications

Journal articles

All publications

Journal articles

Research group

Current PhD students

  • Ella James-Brabham: Understanding how we can close the achievement gap: The role of SES and cognitive factors on early mathematical skills
  • Yesim Yavaslar: The development of cognitive flexibility in early childhood
  • Aleksandra Laketa (International Faculty, City College, Thessaloniki): The role of acculturation and motivation in testing the bilingualism cognitive advantage
  • Arvesa Studenica (International Faculty, City College, Thessaloniki): Mechanisms underpinning the so-called bilingual cognitive advantage
  • ESRC White Rose Network Grant (2017-2021): Inequalities in Cognitive Development (funded 3 x 1+3 PhD studentships across the White Rose doctoral training partnership). With Mark Mon-Williams (PI), Rosie McEachan, Liam Hill, Amanda Waterman, Dan Carroll, Kate Pickett and Paul Wakeling. 
  • The Nuffield Foundation (2017-2018): Testing a short executive function training intervention to improve academic skills in children before they start school (£179,111). With Dan Carroll, Danielle Matthews, and Lucy Cragg. To find out more about this project, see our webpage here.
  • The Economic and Social Research Council (2015): The neural correlates of cognitive flexibility in 2- to 4-year-olds (£2692). With Dr Sandra Wiebe (University of Alberta). Overseas Institutional Visit Award.
  • I have received a number of grants from the Wellcome Trust Biomedical Vacation Scheme and the Sheffield Undergraduate Research Experience (SURE) scheme to fund undergraduates to do a summer research project.
  • University of Sheffield Science Faculty Widening Participation Grant (2013) to develop a STEM activity for schools (£1200).
Teaching activities
  • I manage the developmental teaching across years one and two. This includes: PSY1004 Developmental Psychology I and PSY2004 Developmental Psychology II 
  • I supervise undergraduate and Masters Research Projects in Developmental Psychology 
  • I supervise extended essays in Psychology
  • I teach longitudinal methods on the PSY6121 Research Methods module (MSc Psychological Research)
Professional activities


I enjoy organising exhibitions, talks and activities to demonstrate my research.

These have been held as part of Pint of ScienceIgnite Academy, exhibitions at the Wellcome Collection, Cambridge Secret Garden Party with Guerilla Science, the Sheffield Mobile UniversityDiscovery Night and in locations around Sheffield for National Science and Engineering week and Sheffield City Council’s LearnFest.

I also enjoying giving talks in schools and recently ran a workshop on school readiness for local teachers and educational psychologists.

Articles and programmes