Dr Emma Axelsson

Building 39, Room 216
 612 55023



BA Hons, PhD


I completed my BA (Hons) in psychology at the University of Queensland in 1999 and my PhD in infant cognition at the University of East London in 2010.  I spent just under 10 years in research and teaching roles at a number of universities in and around London, UK (University of Sussex, Middlesex University, University of Surrey, and Kingston University) before returning to Australia in 2012 to take up a research post at the University of New South Wales.  I started teaching at ANU in July 2014.


Research interests

My overarching research interest is in cognitive development in typical and atypical populations.  My specific interests include cognitive mechanisms in child word learning; sleep-related learning and memory; body representations; and universal surveillance and early detection of developmental disorders.

Child Cognition Unit research Facebook site:




  • Eapen, V., Walter, A., Guan, J., Descallar, J., Axelsson, E., Einfeld, S., Eastwood, J., Murphy, E., Beasley, D., Silove, N., Dissanayake, C., Woolfenden, S., Williams, K., Jalaludin, B., and the ‘Watch Me Grow’ study group. (accepted). Maternal help-seeking for child developmental concerns: associations with sociodemographic factors. Journal of Paediatrics and Child Health. doi: 10.1111/jpc.13607
  • Overs, B. J., Woolfenden, S., Williams, K., Jalaludin, B., Axelsson, E., Dissanayake, C., Descallar, J., Harvey, S., Beasley, D., Murphy, E., Eapen, V., and the ’Watch Me Grow’ Study Group*. (in press). Predictors of developmental surveillance completion at six months of age in south western Sydney. Child: Care, Health and Development. DOI: 10.1111/cch.12425
  • ​Woolfenden, S.R., Eapen, V., Jalaludin, B., Hayen, A., Kemp, L., Dissanayake, C., Hendry, A., Axelsson, E.L., et al. (2016). Prevalence and factors associated with parental concerns about development detected by the Parents’ Evaluation of Developmental Status (PEDS) at 6-month, 12-month and 18-month well-child checks in a birth cohort. BMJ Open, 6(9). DOI: 10.1136/bmjopen-2016-012144
  • Axelsson, E.L., Williams, S.E., & Horst, J.S. (2016). The effect of sleep on children's word retention and generalization. Frontiers in Psychology. doi: 10.3389/fpsyg.2016.01192
  • Woolfenden, S.R., Eapen, V., Axelsson, E., Hendry, A., Jalaludin, B., Dissanayake, C., Overs, B., Descaller, J., Eastwood, J., Einfeld, S., Silove, N., Short, K., Beasley, D., Črnčec, R., Murphy, E., Williams, K., and the 'Watch Me Grow' Study Group. (2016). Who is our cohort: recruitment, representativeness, baseline risk and retention in the 'Watch Me Grow' study? BMC Pediatrics.
  • ​Axelsson, E.L., Perry, L.K., Scott, E.J., & Horst, J.S. (2016). Near or far: the effect of spatial distance and vocabulary knowledge on word learning. Acta Psychologica.
  • Perry, L.K., Axelsson, E.L., & Horst, J.S. (2015).  Learning what to remember: vocabulary knowledge and children's memory for object names and features. Infant and Child Development. doi: 10.1002/icd.1933
  • Eapen, V., Woolfenden, S., Williams, K., Jalaludin, B., Dissanayake, C., Axelsson, E.L., Murphy, E., Eastwood, J., Descallar, J., Beasley, D., Črnčec, R., Short, K., Silove, N., Einfeld, S., & Prior, M. (2014). “Are you available for the next 18 months?” – methods and aims of a longitudinal birth cohort study investigating a universal developmental surveillance program: the ‘Watch Me Grow’ study. BMC Pediatrics, 14(234), 1-12. doi:10.1186/1471-2431-14-234
  • Axelsson, E.L., & Horst, J.S. (2014). Contextual repetition facilitates word learning via fast mapping. Acta Psychologica, 152, 95-99. doi:10.1016/j.actpsy.2014.08.002
  • Axelsson, E.L., Hill, C.M., Sadeh, A., Dimitriou, D. (2013). Sleep problems and language development in toddlers with Williams Syndrome. Research in Developmental Disabilities, 34, 3988-3996. doi:10.1016/j.ridd.2013.08.018
  • Axelsson, E.L., & Horst, J.S. (2013). Testing a word is not a test of word learning. Acta Psychologica, 144, 264-268. doi:10.1016/j.actpsy.2013.07.00
  • Kushnerenko, E., Tomalski, P., Ribeiro, H., Potton, A., Axelsson, E.L., Murphy, E., & Moore, D.G. (2013). Brain responses to audiovisual speech mismatch in infants are associated with looking behaviour strategies. European Journal of Neuroscience. 38(9), 3363-3369. doi:10.1111/ejn.12317
  • Tomalski, P., Moore, D.G., Ribeiro, H., Axelsson, E.L., Murphy, E., Karmiloff-Smith, A., Johnson, M.H., & Kushnerenko, E. (2013). Socio-economic status and functional brain development: associations in early infancy. Developmental Science. 16(5), 676-687. doi:10.1111/desc.12079
  • Tomalski, P., Ribeiro, H., Ballieux, H., Axelsson, E.L., Murphy, E., Moore, D.G., & Kushnerenko, E. (2013). Exploring early developmental changes in face scanning patterns during the perception of audio-visual mismatch of speech cues. European Journal of Developmental Psychology, 10 (5), 611-624. doi:10.1080/17405629.2012.728076
  • Axelsson, E.L., Churchley, K., & Horst, J.S. (2012). The right thing at the right time: why ostensive naming facilitates word learning. Frontiers in Developmental Psychology, 3(88). doi: 10.3389/fpsyg.2012.00088
  • Franklin, A., Catherwood, D., Alvarez, J., & Axelsson, E. (2010). Hemispheric asymmetries in categorical perception of orientation in infants and adults. Neuropsychologia, 48(9), 2648-2657. doi:10.1016/j.neuropsychologia.2010.05.011
  • Moore, D.G., Turner, J.D., Parrott, A.C., Goodwin, J.E., Fulton, S.E., Min, M.O., Fox, H.C., Braddick, F.M.B., Axelsson, E.L., Lynch, S., Ribeiro, H., Frostick, C.J., & Singer, L.T. (2010). During pregnancy, recreational drug-using women stop taking ecstasy (3,4-methylenedioxy-N-methylamphetamine) and reduce alcohol consumption, but continue to smoke tobacco and cannabis: initial findings from the Development and Infancy Study. Journal of Psychopharmacology, 24(9), 1403-1410. doi:10.1177/0269881109348165
  • Moore, D.G., Goodwin, J.E., George, R., Axelsson, E.L., & Braddick, F.M.B. (2007). Infants perceive human point-light displays as solid forms. Cognition, 104(2), 377–396. doi:10.1016/j.cognition.2006.07.007

Updated:  24 November 2017/Responsible Officer:  Director, RSP/Page Contact:  Web Admin, RSP