Project information 

How does the ability of people with neurodevelopmental disorders to control their own emotions influence challenging behaviour?

Funded by a Marie Curie Fellowship from the European Commission until February 2014.


Behaviours linked to heightened emotional arousal – like temper outbursts or disruption during episodes of heightened anxiety – can be shown by individuals with several different neurodevelopmental disorders. These sorts of behaviours often cause problems for the individual with the disorder and their families. One of the important factors that we think might be linked to these kinds of behaviours is people’s ability to control their own emotions. Unfortunately, there has been very little previous study on such emotion regulation in people with neurodevelopmental disorders. Finding out how people’s ability to control their emotions is associated with behaviour will help us to learn how teaching specific strategies for emotion regulation could lead to positive effects on behaviour.


In this project we want to investigate the relationship between how people with neurodevelopmental disorders control their emotions and their behaviour.


We have developed a fun game that people play using a computer that allows us to measure emotional control by recording the decisions that people make during the game. We use questionnaires and/or interviews to assess people’s behaviour. Sometimes, we also measure people’s heart rate and movement using special watches.

We are currently recruiting participants to take part in this study. We are looking for:

1) Children or adults (anywhere between the ages of 6 and 25 years) who do not have a neurodevelopmental disorder

2) Children or adults with a neurodevelopmental disorder and someone who knows this person well (e.g. a parent or main caregiver). We don’t have a minimum age for these participants. But because of the nature of the game, everyone must be able to understand certain concepts that are covered as part of Key Stage 1 of the national curriculum.

If you or the person you care for would be interested in taking part in this research then please do get in touch and we can provide you with more detailed information.

Contact Details

Dr Kate Woodcock


Phone: 0121 414 7212