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Event: SMRC Rising Stars Webinar Series: Dr Dean D'Souza


Development emerges through cascades of interacting factors. Some of these factors are internal, such as genetic mutations; others are external, such as the language environment the child is growing up in.

In the first half of his talk, Dean will present his work on understanding some of these constraints. He will begin by discussing early predictors of language and cognitive development in three different genetic disorders: Down syndrome, fragile X syndrome, and Williams syndrome. Specifically, he will present preliminary data from a longitudinal study linking attentional processes in infants and toddlers to later cognitive and language outcomes at age 9-10 years.

Dean will then turn to external constraints; specifically, on whether infants’ attentional processes are shaped by the number of languages that the infant hears. He will discuss his recent study with over 100 typically developing infants from bilingual/multilingual and monolingual homes. This data suggest that bilingual/multilingual infants scan their visual environment faster and more frequently. He will frame the findings in terms of adaptations to different developmental constraints.

The second half of his talk will focus on his lived experiences as an early career researcher, including the knowledge gained through these experiences and the choices he has made.


Fascinated by human origins and development, Dean completed a PhD at the Centre for Brain and Cognitive Development, Birkbeck, University of London. This focused on the early cognitive and neurophysiological processes that underlie language development in typically developing infants, infants at high risk of developing autism, and young children with different genetic disorders (Down syndrome, fragile X syndrome, Williams syndrome). He went on to investigate the effects of bilingualism on brain and cognitive development as a postdoc at UCL.

In 2017, he joined Anglia Ruskin University (ARU) as a lecturer and started the Early Learning and Neurodevelopment (ELAN) lab. The ELAN lab aims to investigate mechanisms of developmental change and trace the developmental trajectories of higher-level abilities such as language back to their basic-level origins in infancy, in typical and atypical populations.

Dean is a senior lecturer and leads the Early Learning and Neurodevelopment (ELAN) lab at Anglia Ruskin University (ARU).


View the recording here