STARS Lab – Science of Child Development and Neurodiversity Lab

Welcome to the STARS lab at UAB! Led by Dr. Caroline G. Richter, we conduct research with typically developing children and with children who are neurodiverse. We are interested in understanding the cognitive and socio-emotional aspects that contribute to the variability on the academic achievement, adaptive outcomes, and emotional well-being of children who are neurodiverse. We focus our work particularly on children with Specific Learning Disabilities, Williams syndrome, and Down syndrome. We hope that the results of our research can be used to inform targeted assessments and interventions, leading to improvements in the quality of life of children and their families. Our projects are funded by the NIH, NCCIH, Learning Disabilities Foundation of America, and UAB Center for Engagement in Disability Health and Rehabilitation Sciences (CEDHARS).

Fall 2023
Fall 2023
Fall 2023
Spring 2023
Fall 2022

Our publications and presentations:

  • Publications:
  • *Goering, M., *Espinoza, C. N., *Mercier, A., *Johnson, W., *Eason, E., & Richter, C. G. Moral Identity in Relation to Emotional Well-Being: A Meta-Analysis. (in press)
  • Richter, C. G., *Li, C., Turnbull, A., Haft, S. L., Schneider, D, Luo, J., Lima, D. P., Lin, F. V., Davidson, R. J., & Hoeft, F. (2024). Brain imaging studies of emotional well-being: A scoping review. Frontiers in Psychology, 14:1328523. https://doi.org/10.3389/fpsyg.2023.1328523
  • Haft, S. L., Greiner de Magalhães, C., & Hoeft, F. (2023). A systematic review of the consequences of stigma and stereotype threat for individuals with specific learning disabilities. Journal of Learning Disabilities, 56(3), 193-209. https://doi.org/10.1177/00222194221087383
  • Richter, C. G., Cardoso-Martins, C., & Mervis, C. B. (2023). Longitudinal predictors of word reading for children with Williams syndrome. Reading and Writing: An Interdisciplinary Journal, 36, 2119–2145. https://doi.org/10.1007/s11145-022-10370-7
  • Richter, C. G., Siegelman, N., Mahaffy, K., van den Bunt, M., Kearns, D. M., Landi, N., Sabatini, J., Pugh, K., & Hoeft, F. (2022). The impact of computer-assisted technology on literacy acquisition during COVID-19-related school closures: Group-level effects and predictors of individual-level outcomes. Frontiers in Psychology, 13:1001555. https://doi.org/10.3389/fpsyg.2022.1001555
  • Mervis, C. B., Greiner de Magalhães, C., & Cardoso-Martins, C. (2022). Concurrent predictors of word- reading and reading comprehension for 9-year-olds with Williams syndrome. Reading and Writing: An Interdisciplinary Journal, 35, 377–397. https://doi.org/10.1007/s11145-021-10163-4
  • Greiner de Magalhães, C., Pitts, C. H., & Mervis, C. B. (2022). Executive function as measured by the Behavior Rating Inventory of Executive Function-2: Children and adolescents with Williams syndrome. Journal of Intellectual Disability Research, 66(1-2), 94–107. https://doi.org/10.1111/jir.12858
  • Mervis, C. B. & Greiner de Magalhães, C. (2022). Williams syndrome. In M. Beauchamp, R. Peterson, M. D. Ris, H. G. Taylor, & K. O. Yeates (Eds.). Pediatric neuropsychology: Research, theory, and practice, 3rd ed (pp.377-405). New York: Guilford.
  • Greiner de Magalhães, C., Cardoso-Martins, C., & Mervis, C. B. (2021). Spelling abilities of school-aged children with Williams syndrome. Research in Developmental Disabilities, 120, 104129. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.ridd.2021.104129
  • Greiner de Magalhães, C., Mervis, C.B. & Cardoso-Martins, C. (2021). Cognitive predictors of arithmetic, reading, and spelling in Brazilian Portuguese-speaking children. Reading and Writing: An Interdisciplinary Journal, 34, 174–198. https://doi.org/10.1007/s11145-020-10062-0
  • Greiner de Magalhães, C., O’Brien, L. M. & Mervis, C. B. (2020). Sleep characteristics and problems of 2-year-olds with Williams syndrome: Relations with language and behavior. Journal     of Neurodevelopmental Disorders, 12(32), 1–16. https://doi.org/10.1186/s11689-020-09336-z
  • Cardoso-Martins, C., Gonçalves, D. T., de Magalhães, C. G., & da Silva, J. R. (2015). Word reading and spelling ability in school-age children and adolescents with autism spectrum disorders: evidence from Brazilian Portuguese. Psychology & Neuroscience, 8, 479–487. https://doi.org/10.1037/pne0000029
  • Cardoso-Martins, C., Gonçalves, D. T., & de Magalhães, C. G. (2013). What are the mechanisms behind exceptional word reading ability in hyperlexia?: Evidence from a 4-year-old hyperlexic boy’s invented spellings. Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders, 43, 3001–3003. https://doi.org/10.1007/s10803-013-1857-0
  • Presentations:
  • Richter, C. G., *Li, C., Chen, J. M., Hoeft, F. (2023, May). Emotional well-being in middle-schoolers with specific learning disabilities. Data Blitz Presentation; Mechanisms Underlying Mind-Body Interventions & Measurement of Emotional Well-Being (M3EWB) Research Summit, Washington, DC.
  • *Heard, M. R., *Hawrych, R. C., Ennis, R., Mrug, S. & Richter, C. G. (2023, May). Risk and protective factors of life satisfaction in early adolescence. Poster presented at the 2023 Association for Psychological Science Annual Convention, Washington, DC.
  • *Luo, J., *Li, C., Richter, C. G., Turnbull, A., & Hoeft, F. (2023, May). Human neural correlates of emotional well-being: A meta-analytical review of MRI studies. Poster presented at the 2023 Association for Psychological Science Annual Convention, Washington, DC.
  • Hall, S., Richter, C. G., & Koslouski, J. (2023, May). A scoping review of emotional well-being measures for individuals with intellectual disabilities. Symposium presented at the 2023 Association for Psychological Science Annual Convention, Washington, DC.
  • Koslouski, J., Hall, S., Chafouleas, S., Wittenberg, E., Fabiano, G., & Richter, C. G. (2023, May). What about us?: Reviewing the Current Landscape of Emotional Well-Being Measures for Historically Overlooked Populations. Symposium presented at the 2023 Association for Psychological Science Annual Convention, Washington, DC.
  • Richter, C. G., Hillock, M. L., Becerra, A. M., Guimarães, V. N, *Williams, C. J., & Mervis, C. B. (2023, April). Mastery motivation in young children with Williams syndrome or Down syndrome. Poster presented at the Gatlinburg Conference on Research and Theory in Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities, Kansas City, KS.
  • Richter, C. G., *Dahlman, A.,Siegelman, N., Mahaffy, K., van den Bunt, M., Kearns, D. M., Landi, N., Sabatini, J., Pugh, K., & Hoeft, F. (2023, March). The impact of computer-assisted technology on literacy acquisition during COVID-19-related school closures: Group-level effects and predictors of individual-level outcomes. Poster to be presented at Society for Research in Child Development Biennial Meeting (SRCD), Salt Lake City, UT.
  • Richter, C. G. (chair), Hoeft, F., Hendren, R., Al Otaiba, S., Kockler, R. (2022, Nov). Socio-emotional challenges in learning disorders. Symposium presented at the Reading, Literacy & Learning Annual International Dyslexia Association (IDA) Conference, San Antonio, TX. https://doi.org/10.13140/RG.2.2.23669.45281
  • *Berisha, A., *Li, C. M., Chen, J. M., Hoeft, F. & Richter, C. G. (2023, October). Emotional well-being among children with specific learning disabilities. Poster presented at the Frontiers in Undergraduate Research exhibition, Storrs, Connecticut, USA.
  • *Dahlman, A.,Arnold, H. P., Mervis, C. B., Richter, C. G. (2023, July). The Role of Persistence on Adaptive Functioning in Children with Williams Syndrome ages 6 to 8: Preliminary Results. Poster presented at Summer UAB Expo.
  • *Dahlman, A.,Arnold, H. P., Mervis, C. B., Richter, C. G. (2023, April). The role of persistence in adaptive functioning and school readiness for children with Williams syndrome ages 6 – 8 years. Poster presented at Ost Research Competition, Psychology Department, UAB.
  • *Hawrych, R. C. & Richter, C. G. (2023, April).Executive function measurement schemas and performance patterns in children and adolescents with intellectual disability. Poster presented at UAB Expo.
  • *Dahlman, A., Richter, C. G., Siegelman, N., Mahaffy, K., Bunt, M. van den, Kearns, D. M., Landi, N., Sabatini, J., Pugh, K., & Hoeft, F. (2022, November). The impact of computer-assisted technology on literacy acquisition during COVID-19-related school closures: Group-level effects and predictors of individual-level outcomes. Poster presented at UAB Expo.
    1. Alison Dahlman was the 2nd Place Winner of the in-person Fall Expo 2022 in the Social and Behavioral Science category.   
  • *Williams, C. J., Richter, C. G., Hillock, M. L., Becerra, A. M., & Mervis, C. B. (2022, November). Mastery motivation in young children with Williams syndrome or Down syndrome. Poster presented at UAB Expo.
  • *Redden, K. B., *Coffey, L., Richter, C. G. (2022, November). Stereotype and stigma interventions and future avenues in individuals with specific learning disabilities. Poster presented at UAB Expo.