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Holly Bradley, PhD, MRes

Work That Matters

Trainee Spotlight: Holly Bradley, PhD, MRes

A Postdoctoral Fellow, Holly Bradley is investigating the neural mechanisms behind a key developmental milestone for babies.

Walking, talking, smiling, laughing—these are just a few of the many milestones babies achieve. Holly, however, is studying the development of a key skill many people take for granted: joint attention.

“Joint attention is the shared focus of two individuals on the same object of interest, and it’s a key skill that typically emerges in the first year of life,” she explains. “When this skill is impaired or delayed, it has long-term ramifications for social, linguistic and cognitive skills, and those impacts can persist for a lifetime.”

In the Infant Neuromotor Control Laboratory, Holly is working with Beth Smith, PhD, DPT, to understand the neural mechanisms underlying joint attention in babies with visual impairment. The study includes assessing a baby’s interactions with her during specific tasks and games, while the infant’s neural activity is recorded with electroencephalography (EEG). Her project aims to create a machine learning approach to compare joint attention abilities across different infant populations.

“The goal is to aid the design of effective interventions to improve joint attention capabilities early in life when this skill is delayed or impaired,” she says. As a first step, the team recently validated a novel measure of joint attention that minimizes the need to track eye gazing.

Originally from Halifax in West Yorkshire, England, Holly loves exploring California’s hiking trails and beaches. She also enjoys reading good books, traveling and experiencing the many restaurants of Los Angeles.