Susan Perlman, PhD

Assistant Professor, Psychiatry


PhD, Duke University (2009)


Neurodevelopment of cognition and emotion in young children

Research Summary

My multi-modal research program bridges the fields of social and cognitive development and social, cognitive, and affective neuroscience to form a field known as Developmental Cognitive Neuroscience.  I employ multiple methodological techniques including functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI), functional near infrared spectroscopy (fNIRS), psychophysiological measures, eye tracking, and other behavioral and questionnaire measures to conduct cognitive and neural analyses of mechanisms underlying the development of emotion and its effects on social interactions.  My investigations are grounded in the neurodevelopment of normative children with branches of my research program applying normative findings to atypically developing populations, including maltreated children, post-institutionalized children, children suffering from mood disorders, and, most recently, children presenting with high irritability.  Specifically, my research interests lean towards the study of emotion regulation, best defined as the ability to manage positive or negative arousal so that the individual can successfully function on an interpersonal level.  By studying the typical and atypical ontogeny of multiple aspects of emotion from relatively simple and early developing abilities (e.g., producing emotional facial expressions) to more complex and later forming abilities (e.g., perception and attribution of the emotional behaviors of others) at multiple levels of analysis, I aim to identify mechanisms underlying the development of complex emotional systems.


Summer Undergraduate Research Program



Perlman, S.B., Luna, B., Hein, T.C., & Huppert, T.J. (2014).  fNIRS Evidence of Prefrontal Regulation of Frustration in Early Childhood. NeuroImage, 85(1), 326-334. (PMC3796135)

Perlman, S.B., Hein, T.C., Stepp, S.D., & The LAMS Consortium (2014). Emotional reactivity and its impact on neural circuitry for attention-emotion interaction in childhood and adolescence. Developmental Cognitive Neuroscience, 8, 100-109.

Perlman, S.B. (2012). Neuroimaging in Child Clinical Populations: Considerations for a Successful Research Program. Journal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, 51(12), 1232-1235. (PMC3652337)

Perlman, S.B., & Pelphrey, K.A. (2011). Developing connections for affective regulation: Age related changes in emotional brain connectivity. Journal of Experimental Child Psychology, 108, 607-620. (PMC3029468)

Perlman, S.B., Morris, J.P., Vander Wyk, B.C., Green, S.R., Doyle, J.L., & Pelphrey, K.A. (2009). Individual differences in personality shape how people look at faces. PLoS ONE, 4(6), e5952.  (PMC2695783)