Dr Emma Blakey
Department of Psychology
University of Sheffield
1 Vicar Lane, Sheffield
Tel: +44 (0)114 2226616
PhD Developmental Psychology (University of Sheffield)
MSc Psychological Research (University of Sheffield)
BA Philosophy and Psychology (University of Sheffield
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 other important skills and how their development can be best supported. I am particularly interested in understanding how executive functions develop in toddlers and preschoolers. I use experimental, cross-sectional, longitudinal and training study designs in my research and recently, with the ABCD lab at the University of Alberta, I have 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, please see the Sheffield Cognitive Development Research Group page and volunteer.
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. With Prof Marc Buehner, Prof Teresa McCormack, Prof Dave Lagnado, Prof Christoph Hoerl and Sara Lorimer I have been examining 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.
Understanding ASMR: With Dr Giulia Poerio, Dr Tom Hostler and Dr 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 here.
The Nuffield Foundation (2017): Testing a short executive function training intervention to improve academic skills in children before they start school (£179,111). With Dr Dan Carroll, Dr Danielle Matthews (University of Sheffield), and Dr Lucy Cragg (University of Nottingham).
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).
Current PhD Students
Co-supervisor to Aleksandra Laketa (International Faculty, City College, Thessaloniki) - Bilingualism and Age-related Cognitive Decline.
Co-supervisor to Arvesa Studenika (International Faculty, City College, Thessaloniki) – Bilingualism and Theory of Mind.
PSY245 Developmental Psychology
PSY329 Individual Differences
Links to other web profiles
Public Engagement and Media
I enjoy organising exhibitions, talks and activities to demonstrate my research. These have been held at the Wellcome Collection, Cambridge Secret Garden Party with Guerilla Science, the Sheffield Mobile University, and in locations around Sheffield for National Science and Engineering week and Sheffield City Council’s LearnFest.
Articles and programmes:
Guardian article: “ASMR and head orgasms: what’s the science behind it?”
BBC programme featuring our ASMR research
BBC News article featuring our research
Radio Two news programme featuring our ASMR research
I have wrote articles for The Conversation on topics of Developmental Psychology
I was interviewed for the American Scientist article “Fact or Fiction: Video games are the future of education”
A list of key publications can be found below. For a full list of publications please click here
- Poerio G, Blakey EL, Hostler T & Veltri T (2018) More than a feeling: Autonomous sensory meridian response (ASMR) is characterized by reliable changes in affect and physiology. PLoS ONE, 13(6). View this article in WRRO
- Blakey E & Carroll DJ (2017) Not all distractions are the same: Investigating why preschoolers make distraction errors when switching. Child Development. View this article in WRRO
- Carroll DJ, Blakey E & FitzGibbon L (2016) Cognitive Flexibility in Young Children: Beyond Perseveration. Child Development Perspectives, 10(4), 211-215. View this article in WRRO
- Blakey E, Visser I & Carroll DJ (2016) Different Executive Functions Support Different Kinds of Cognitive Flexibility: Evidence From 2-, 3-, and 4-Year-Olds. Child Development, 87(2), 513-526. View this article in WRRO
- Blakey E & Carroll DJ (2015) A Short Executive Function Training Program Improves Preschoolers’ Working Memory. Frontiers in Psychology, 6. View this article in WRRO