Signature Areas of Research

The Mary J. Wright Research and Education Centre at Merrymount has concentrated on three key areas of research, however, our transdisciplinary model explores the complex influences impacting the cognitive, emotional and social development of a child.

Environmental effects on brain development – toxic stress

Understanding brain development or brain architecture is a rapidly emerging science. We know that children who are exposed to stressful and traumatic circumstances early in life are prone to lifelong problems in learning, behavior and physical and mental health. Working in collaboration with eminent researchers from the Department of Psychology and principal investigators at Western’s Brain and Mind Institute, the Mary J. Wright Research and Education Centre at Merrymount will investigate the impact of early adversity on the development of brain functioning and collaborate across signature research areas to investigate and translate interventions with a focus on building resilience in young children

Cognition, language, literacy and numeracy

Math, reading and oral language skills are the foundational pillars of learning and education and the key to success in school and beyond. The development of treatments and interventions for learning disabilities in these areas, such as dyslexia, has been hampered by a lack of understanding of the different ways in which they can affect individual children. World-renowned cognitive neuroscience researchers will study the cognitive processes that support children’s learning and examine the key mechanisms associated with emerging, established and delayed skills in language, reading and math.

Social, Emotional and Behavioral Resiliency and Well-Being

A worrisome trend has emerged in the past two decades which is that youth are feeling extremely stressed or feeling anxious or depressed, more so than in past generations. However, very little research has been done to examine the patterns and causes of social, emotional and behavioral challenges in preschool children and to link those findings to interventions that support the well-being of those children in an effort to mitigate the large numbers of youth experiencing psychological stress. Renowned researchers working collaboratively across disciplines will study and share research in this area as it relates to positively influencing early child outcomes and building resilience in children and families.

A researcher helping a child