My unique experiences as a speech and behavioral therapist have solidified my interest in social development in infancy and early childhood. Infants are born with fascinating predispositions and abilities that help them perceive and learn from pertinent cues in the environment, which guide them to respond and adapt to the social world.

My research aims to identify individual characteristics early in life as predictors and indicators of healthy and/or atypical development. I use two primary approaches in my research with human infants and toddlers: One involves examining patterns of healthy early social development by integrating measures across multiple domains (e.g., behavior, physiology, neural activity), and the other focuses on identifying deviations to healthy development by applying cutting-edge tools such as advanced statistical modeling and machine learning in development science.


Currently, I have three research lines that focus on social development in infancy and early childhood:

(1) Developmental dynamics of early communication:

- Interplay between physiology and behavior during interaction

- temporal coordination of communicative signals

(2) Individual variability in early sociality

- Temperament

- Social motivation

(3) Automated behavior measurements:

- Remote eye-tracking

- Facial movement/expression detection with machine learning


(* = corresponding author; # = undergraduate student)

*Leung, T. S., Zeng, G., Maylott, S. E., #Martinez, S. N., Jakobsen, K. V., & Simpson, E. A. (in press). Infection detection in faces: Children’s development of pathogen avoidance. Child Development.

*Zeng, G., Leung, T. S., Maylott, S. E., #Saunders, T. A., Messinger, D. S., Llabre, M. M., & Simpson, E. A. (2023). Social motivation predicts gaze following development in 2- to 14-month-old infants. Infancy.


*Leung, T. S., Maylott, S. E., Zeng, G., #Nascimben, D. N., Jakobsen, K. V., & Simpson, E. A. (2023). Behavioral and physiological sensitivity to natural sick faces. Brain, Behavior, and Immunity.


Zeng, G., *Simpson, E. A., & Paukner, A. (2023). Maximizing valid eye tracking data in human and macaque infants by optimizing calibration and adjusting areas of interest. Behavior Research Methods.

*Zeng, G., Maylott, S. E., Leung, T. S., Messinger, D. S., Wang, J., & Simpson, E. A. (2022). Temperamental fear, eye contact, and gaze aversion in early infancy. Developmental Psychobiology, 64(7), e22324.

*Delgado, C. F., Simpson, E. A., Miron, O., Delgado, R. E., Zeng, G., & Gutierrez, A. (2021). Newborn auditory brainstem responses of children with developmental disabilities. Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders, 53.

*Miron, O., Delgado, R. E., Delgado, C. F., Simpson, E. A., Yu, K.-H., Gutierrez, A., Zeng, G., Gerstenberger, J. N., & Kohane, I. S. (2021). Prolonged auditory brainstem response in universal hearing screening of newborns with autism spectrum disorder. Autism Research, 14(1), 46-52.

*Simpson, E. A., Maylott, S. E., Mitsven, S. G., Zeng, G., & Jakobsen, K. V. (2020). Face detection in 2-to 6-month-old infants is influenced by gaze direction and species. Developmental Science, 23(2), e12902.