Our Lab Team

Current Lab Team

Prof. Naama Atzaba-Poria

Lab Director

My research focuses on the antecedents and consequences of the parent-child relationship, with a particular interest in parenting during stressful life situations such as premature birth, child feeding/sleep problems, child developmental disorders, and the complexities of adjustment in immigrant/ethnic families. In addition, I am interested in the individual differences in response to interventions for parents of children with challenging behaviors.

Dr. Tal Yatziv

I study the roles neurocognitive processes play in shaping early parenting. I am particularly interested in (1) the interplay between cognitive control and automatic processing in emotion understanding and parenting practices in early caregiving, and their effect on infants’ socioemotional development; and (2) the neurocognitive architecture supporting maternal mentalization and sensitivity. I employ reaction-time and accuracy-based measures and imaging approaches, together with observation-based ecological methods (e.g., videotaped parent-infant interactions), to gain insights into how adaptive parenting unfolds in time. 

I recently completed my Ph.D. in the Department of Psychology at Ben-Gurion University of the Negev, under the joint supervision of Prof. Naama Atzaba-Poria and Dr. Yoav Kessler. My Ph.D. study focused on the contribution of maternal executive functions to maternal mentalization, as manifested in online mother-infant interactions and in offline descriptions in preschool, among mothers of preterm and full-term children.

Atara Menashe Greenberg

I completed my BA at Bar-Ilan University and then moved to
Ben-Gurion University of the Negev, where I completed my MA in Clinical
Psychology. Today, I am a Ph.D. student under the supervision of Prof. Naama Atzaba-Poria, and a clinical psychology intern working with children and adults in a community clinic. In my Ph.D. study, we examine the effect of “Duet Reflective Parenting” groups on parents’ reflective abilities, as well as the relations between parental reflective capacities and child problem behaviors. We investigate the mechanisms of change that underly the effect of the Duet groups, focusing on parental emotional availability, parental beliefs about emotions, and child self-regulation. In addition, we examine parental characteristics that may moderate the effectiveness of group intervention: depression, parental stress, attachment, and playfulness. 

Kinneret Levavi

A mother of two magical boys and a doctoral student in the Department of Psychology. I started my studies at Ben-Gurion University of the Negev, where I completed my bachelor’s degree in psychology. One experience I remember in particular is working as part of Prof. Naama Atzaba-Poria’s developmental lab. in which I coded parent-infant feeding interactions, and realized deep down that I wanted to continue in the developmental field. I went on to pursue a master’s degree in developmental psychology at the University of Haifa, where I researched the quality of the emotionally preschool climate in kindergartens and how it affects children’s well-being. It was a significant research experience that pushed me to move on to a Ph.D. with the goal of using the knowledge I will discover and develop to improve the emotional state of children, parents and the general systems that pertain to them in Israel. I went back to my roots and am now a doctoral student at Ben-Gurion University of the Negev under the supervision of Prof. Naama Atzaba-Poria. My research addresses the adjustment of children and parents living in a highly-stressful armed conflict area in Israel, Gaza vicinity. Specifically, I examine the developmental process of adjustment to the arrival of the second-born among families in Gaza vicinity (high exposure) as compared to families living in less stressful areas (low exposure), and the extent to which this added chronic stress impacts their susceptibility to stressors associated with this family transition.

Shuaa Assal Zrike

A clinical psychologist, born in Nazareth. I completed my BA in Psychology at Haifa University and my MA in Clinical Child Psychology at The Academic College of Tel Aviv–Yaffo. I completed my clinical internship at Soroka Mental Health Center (Beer-Sheva), and the Educational Psychological Services centers in Sderot and Omer. In my Ph.D. study, I examine the links between Bedouin mothers’ emotional distress following the birth of a preterm newborn (depression and anxiety) and the quality of the mother-infant relationship and infant development by the end of the first year of life. The study aims to identify risk and resilience factors at the foundation of mother-infant bond and infant development in the Bedouin sector

Porat Yaakov

I completed my BA in Psychology at Tel-Aviv University, as part of a program for outstanding students from the periphery of Israel. I completed my MA in Developmental Psychology at Ben-Gurion University of the Negev, under the supervision of Prof. Naama Atzaba-Poria, who is also my Ph.D. advisor. In my MA research, I examined the long-term effect of early feeding problems on subsequent parent-adolescent relationships, eating disorders, and negative body image. In my Ph.D. study, I study the changes families experience during the arrival of the second-born; specifically, I examine potential resiliency factors that may help first-borns adjust to this family change, such as empathic abilities and maternal emotional availability. In addition, I study the emergence and formation of early sibling relationships.

Lab Alumni

Dr. Yael Barak-Levy

My research interests focus on the adjustment of families of children with developmental disabilities. I have completed my M.A. in educational counseling and my theses examined the “social and emotional adjustment of healthy siblings of children with autism”. My PhD was done in the field of developmental psychology and centered on “parenting and stress in mothers and fathers of children with developmental delay”.
In my professional life I’ve been a kindergarten teacher for children with autism for 8 years and later an educational counselor in a school for children with autism. These days I teach in Achva Academic College and in Kaye Academic College of Education in the departments of special education. I am also a proud mother of 3 beautiful children.

Dr. Noa Geuron-Sela

My research interests include the effects of early risk factors (e.g., premature birth, postpartum depression) on children’s developmental outcomes, as well as the buffering effects of early positive parent-child interactions under high risk conditions.
For the past five years I have been working on my PhD project, a longitudinal study following preterm infants and their families through the first year of life. This study
aims to determine the long term effects of infant, parent and relationship factors on developmental outcomes at age 12 months. I am particularly interested to explore the role of dyadic (mother-child, father-child) and triadic (mother-father-child) interactions on early cognitive and social development among preterm infants. In addition, I have been involved in a study focusing on parent-child interactions among families of children with early feeding and sleeping problems. I have also attended the Reflective Parenting Program (RPP) training in the Center for Reflective Parenting in Los Angeles, California, and am certified to facilitate group workshops for parents aimed to promote reflective functioning.

Dr. Yael Damari

I completed my Ph.D. in the Department of Social Work at Ben-Gurion University of the Negev. My research interests focus on Parental Reflective Functioning (PRF) among parents of children with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder. PRF refers to a parent’s awareness of thoughts and feelings of himself/herself and his/her child.
In addition, I am a therapist at the Mental Health Clinic for Children and Youth at Soroka Medical Center. I have a BA in Social Work from Ben-Gurion University and an M.S.W from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem.