Dr. Van Hecke is originally from Canton, Mississippi. She received her undergraduate degree in psychology from Smith College in Northampton, Massachusetts. After a research internship at the University of Portsmouth, England, Dr. Van Hecke completed her doctoral work in Developmental Psychology at the University of Miami in Coral Gables, Florida. Dr. Van Hecke then received a Kirschstein National Research Service Award (NRSA) from the National Institute of Mental Health to complete a three-year postdoctoral fellowship in the Department of Psychiatry at the University of Illinois, Chicago.
Dr. Van Hecke enjoys reading, traveling, playing croquet, and cooking Southern food for her husband, her daughters, and friends in her spare time.
Ph.D., University of Miami
B.A., Smith College
Dr. Van Hecke enjoys teaching undergraduate Developmental Psychology: Conception through Adolescence, and graduate and undergraduate Introduction to Statistics.
Dr. Van Hecke’s specialty is developmental psychology and neuroscience, with an emphasis on typical and atypical social development across the lifespan. In particular, Dr. Van Hecke is interested in brain activity, heart rate regulation, and social behavior in infants, and in teenagers and young adults with autism spectrum disorder (ASD). Her past studies have focused on topics such as the development of eye contact behavior, temperament, and social skills in typically developing infants, and the activation of the brain and regulation of the heart in response to familiar and unfamiliar people in children with high-functioning autism. Dr. Van Hecke currently utilizes high-density electroencephalogram (EEG) and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI, fMRI, and DTI) to record brain activity and structure in adolescents and young adults with autism. Her current work involves understanding how friendship/relationship development interventions, such as the Program for the Education and Enrichment of Relational Skills (PEERS: Laugeson & Frankel, 2010), affects brain structure, brain activity, anxiety, and social behavior in adolescents and young adults with autism. She is particularly interested in how remediating social isolation enhances or changes neural activity and structure. A secondary focus in Dr. Van Hecke’s lab includes a community collaborative project to ensure access to high-quality autism diagnostic screening and services for underserved, inner-city children in Milwaukee.
Bal, E., Harden, E., Lamb, D., Vaughan Van Hecke, A., Denver, J., & Porges, S.W. (2009). Emotion recognition in children with autism spectrum disorders: Relations to eye gaze and autonomic state. Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders, 40, 358-370
Vaughan Van Hecke, A., Lebow, J., Bal, E., Lamb, D. Harden, E., Kramer, A., Denver, J., Bazhenova, O., & Porges, S. (2009). EEG and heart rate regulation to familiar and unfamiliar people in children with autism spectrum disorders. Child Development, 80, 1118-33
Mundy, P., & Van Hecke, A.V. (2008). Neural systems, gaze following, and the development of joint attention. In C. Nelson & M. Luciana (Eds.), Handbook of Developmental Cognitive Neuroscience, 2nd edition (pp. 819-838). Cambridge, MA: The MIT Press
Reddy, V., Williams, E., & Vaughan, A. (2002). Sharing humour and laughter in autism and Down’s Syndrome. British Journal of Psychology, 93, 219-24.
Mundy, P., & Vaughan, A. (2002). Joint attention and its role in the diagnostic assessment of children with autism. Assessment for Effective Intervention, 27, 57-60.
Vaughan, A., Mundy, P., Block, J., Burnette, C., Delgado, C., Gomez, Y., Meyer, J., Neal, R., & Pomares, Y. (2003). Child, caregiver, and temperament contributions to infant joint attention. Infancy, 4, 603-616.
Sutton, S., Burnette, C., Mundy, P., Meyer, J., Vaughan, A., Sanders, C., & Yale, M. (2005). Resting cortical brain activity, social impairments, and comorbidity in high functioning children with autism. Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry and Allied Disciplines, 46, 211-222.
Meyer, J. A., Mundy, P., Van Hecke, A.V., & Durocher, J. S. (2006). Social-attribution processes and comorbid psychiatric symptoms in children with Asperger syndrome. Autism, 10, 383-402.
Vaughan Van Hecke, A., & Mundy, P. (2007). Neural systems and the development of gaze following and related joint attention skills. In R. Flom, K. Lee, & D. Muir (Eds.), Gaze Following: Its Development and Significance (pp.17-51). Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates.
Mundy, P., Block, J., Delgado, C.,Van Hecke, A.V., Pomares, Y., & Parlade, M.V. (2007). Individual differences and the development of joint attention in infancy. Child Development, 78, 938-954.
Vaughan Van Hecke, A., Mundy, P. C., Acra, C. F., Block, J., Gomez, Y., Delgado, C.,Venezia, M., Meyer, J., Neal, R., & Pomares, Y. (2007). Infant joint attention, temperament, and social competence in preschool children. Child Development, 78, 53-69.
Bal, E., Harden, E., Lamb, D., Vaughan Van Hecke, A., Denver, J., & Porges, S.W. (2009). Emotion recognition in children with autism spectrum disorders: Relations to eye gaze and autonomic state. Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders.