Scott, Matthew

Matthew Scott
Start date:
October 2020
Research Topic:
Socio-emotional development in children with neurodevelopmental difficulties - building emotional skills through a musical intervention
Research pathway:
Research Supervisor:
Professor Stephanie van Goozen and Dr Catherine Jones
Supervising school:
School of Psychology,
Primary funding source:
ESRC Studentship

Many children with socio-emotional and behavioural difficulties do not receive adequate support during key phases of development. Cardiff’s Neurodevelopment Assessment Unit (NDAU) aims to support children with a range of developmental problems, with the dual aim of;

a) feeding back information on the child’s specific profile of strengths and difficulties – to enhance referring agents’ propensity to offer effective support;
b) building up an extensive pool of data, illuminating the neurophysiological and biological mechanisms that underlie different neurodevelopmental difficulties.

The NDAU operates within the National Institute of Mental Health’s Research Domain Criteria Initiative (RDoC). It takes a trans-diagnostic approach to research and intervention, focusing on the interplay between key underlying domains of human functioning (cognitive, social, regulatory, sensorimotor, positive/negative valence) and the way differences within these systems are expressed and measurable at multiple levels (e.g. physiological, behavioural, self-report, neural circuitry).

Previous and ongoing research within the NDAU has centred on detangling this intricate web, to make important contributions to the research base and inform more efficacious interventions that improve children’s wellbeing. This research will aim to contribute to this progress, with the ultimate goal of offering a targeted and flexible music-based intervention for children with socio-emotional and behavioural difficulties. Music has potential with this group as a rewarding, emotionally informative base from which to build key skills for those who may struggle to do so without support.

At present, the research has the following objectives;

  • To explore musical emotional development in typical and atypical development in relation to both general emotional processes and music-specific factors;
  • To examine music’s potential as a form of emotional communication that can modulate perceptual and responsive emotional processes in typical and atypical development;
  • To design and implement a music-based intervention with children with developmental difficulties – measuring qualitative and quantitative change in socio-emotional/behavioural outcomes and individual wellbeing;
  • To add to and develop theory regarding a) the nature of developmental difficulties across this heterogenous group and b) musical emotional development.