Esha Massand

Postdoctoral Research Scientist

Centre for Brain and Cognitive Development
School of Psychology
Birkbeck College
32 Torrington Square
London WC1E 7JL
Phone: +44 (0)20 7079 0778

Research Interests

My research focuses on neurodevelopmental disorders such as Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) and Down’s syndrome (DS). I am particularly interested in atypical developmental trajectories, as they impact an individuals' cognitive abilities.

We have shown that even when overt behaviours are similar to typically developing controls, those with ASD display different underlying brain processes, and I am deeply passionate about understanding how these cognitive functions (memory, attention, social interaction and learning) operate in individuals with neurodevelopmental disorders.

My research aims to bridge the gaps between cognition and biological processes by linking behaviour with brain activity, physiological arousal (heart rate) and eye tracking. I'm also interested in personality differences, social profiles, social economic status, sleep patterns and other demographics, and how these give rise to individual differences.

Human beings are not static; they come with an environment, that is ever-changing, and nowadays dominated by information streams. Recent studies have shown that the environment can lead genetically-similar individuals along very different developmental trajectories. My work aims to understand more about how a disruption can impact things like visual attention and cognition in developing individuals. The worlds of many individuals with autism (and other developmental disorders) are even more saturated with information streams (e.g., computer interaction) compared to typical individuals. Currently, there is little work being done to understand how these information streams and communication channels can be adjusted so that they are user-oriented, and further, so that these individuals do not have to 'fit in', but rather benefit from them.


I am a postdoctoral research scientist for Professor Annette Karmiloff-Smith as part of the LonDownS Research Consortium to investigate the links between Down’s syndrome and Alzheimer’s disease. We will approach this topic with teams of geneticists, psychiatrists, and neuroscientists to answer our questions about the over-expression of the APP gene on chromosome 21, individual differences in the development of learning disabilities in infants and children with Down’s syndrome, the processes involved in cognitive decline with aging, and the relationship between Down’s syndrome and Alzheimer’s disease — including the identification of risk markers and preventative treatment.

If you would like to volunteer to be a research associate in our lab on this project, please take a look here, and email me your CV and a cover letter.

Curriculum Vitae


MSc in Computer Science/Information Systems Technology, Department of Computer Science, Birkbeck University London. (Starting September 2013-)​

PhD. in Cognitive Neuroscience, Autism Research Group, City University London, UK, 2011
Dissertation: Event-Related Brain Potentials of Episodic and Semantic Memory in Autism Spectrum Disorder.
Mentor: Professor Dermot Bowler (Montreal Student Exchange Mentor, Dr. Boutheina Jemel)

BSc. in Psychology, City University London, UK, 2007
Thesis: Visual and Tactile Sensory Integration in Autism Spectrum Disorder.

Academic Positions & Research Training

2013 - present: Postdoctoral Research Scientist, Department of Psychological Sciences, Centre for Brain and Cognitive Development, Birkbeck University of London & the LonDownS research consortium (Mentor: Professor Annette Karmiloff-Smith).

2011 - 2013: Postdoctoral Research Fellow, University of Washington, USA, (June 2011 to January 2013). Family Traits Research Project. Investigating social attention, imitation and spontaneous electrical brain activity of individuals with and without Autism, and first-degree relatives (infants-at-risk/siblings, and parents) of individuals with Autism (Mentor: Dr. Sara-Jane Webb).

2012 - 2013: Research Affiliate, Seattle Children’s Research Institute, Seattle Children’s Hospital, Washington, USA. EEG Medication Response in Autism Spectrum Disorder. Investigating the impact of medication on the EEG (Mentor: Dr. Sara-Jane Webb).

2009 (International Exchange): Pre-doctoral Intern, University of Montreal, Canada. Electroencephalography (EEG) and Event-related Potential (ERP) training on how to acquire and analyse EEG and ERP data with individuals with Autism (Mentor: Dr. Boutheina Jemel).

​2006-2008: Research Assistant to Dr. Sebastian Gaigg, Autism Research Group, City University London. Source memory studies in individuals with high functioning Autism.


Association for Psychological Science, Rising Star Award (2013)​

Interdisciplinary Proposal Award, City University London, UK (2010)

Grindley Grant, Experimental Psychology Society (2010)

Student Travel Award, International Meeting for Autism Research (2009)

International Student Exchange Scholarship, City University London, UK (2008)

PhD Graduate Student Bursary, City University London, UK (2007)

Duke of Edinburgh Award, Bronze, St. Mary’s Church of England (2002)


Massand. E., Bowler, D. M., Mottron, L., Hosein, A. & Jemel, B. (2013). ERP Correlates of Recognition Memory in Autism Spectrum Disorder.Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders. Online First.

Massand. E. & Bowler, D. M. (2013). Atypical neurophysiology underlying episodic and semantic memory in adults with Autism Spectrum Disorder. Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders.

Massand, E & Karmiloff-Smith, A. (In preparation). Cascading Genetic and Environmental Effects on Development: Implications for Intervention.  In K. J. Mitchell (Eds.). The Genetics of Neurodevelopmental Disorders.

Massand. E. & Bowler, D. M. (In preparation). Remember and Know ERP Old-New Effects in Autism Spectrum Disorder.

Massand, E., Webb, S.J., Faja, S., Jones, E., Lowy, R. et al., (In preparation). Face Processing in Parents of Children with Autism Spectrum Disorder.


Massand, E. & Karmiloff-Smith (2013). Understanding adult outcomes through infancy studies: Neuro-cognitive phenotypes of infants with Down syndrome may predict protective/risk markers for Alzheimer’s disease. Poster presented at the Cognition in Down Syndrome Workshop, Washington DC, USA, April 13th-15th.​

Massand, E., Aaronson, B., Lowy, R., Webb, S. J., Wijsman, E. & Bernier, R. A. (2012). EEG Mu Wave Attenuation in Broader Phenotype ASD. Poster presented at the International Meeting for Autism Research, Toronto, Canada, May 17th -19th​

Gaigg, S.B., Massand, E. & Bowler DM (2011). The neural correlates of atypical episodic memory processes in autism spectrum disorder: what role does the semantic system play? Frontiers in Human Neuroscience Conference Abstract: XI International Conference on Cognitive Neuroscience (ICON XI). Mallorca, Spain, September 25th – 29th doi:10.3389/conf.fnhum.2011.207.00206​

Massand, E. & Bowler, D.M. (2011). ERP Correlates of Episodic and Semantic Memory Judgements in ASD. Poster presented at the International Meeting for Autism Research, San Diego, USA, May 12th – 14th

Massand, E. & Bowler, D.M. (2010). Remember and Know Old-New Effects in Autism Spectrum Disorder. Poster presented at the International Meeting for Autism Research, Philadelphia, USA, May 20th – 22nd​

Massand. E., Bowler, D. M., Mottron, L., Hosein, A. & Jemel, B. (2009). The ERP Old-New Word Repetition effect in Autism Spectrum Disorder: Atypical Neural Functioning Underlying Undiminished Recognition Memory Performance. Poster presented at:
* The International Meeting for Autism Research, Chicago, USA, May 5th – 7th (2009)
* International Conference on Innovative Research in Autism, Tours, France, April 15th – 17th  (2009).
* British Neuroscience Association: Festival of Neuroscience, London, April 7-10th (2013).

Public Engagement

2013: British Neuroscience Association, Festival of Neuroscience Week. The Barbican, London. ‘I’m a Neuroscientist, get me out of here!’ competition.

2012: ​PAWS ON SCIENCE at the annual University of Washington science fair at the Pacific Science Center, Seattle, Washington. March 29-30. Demonstrating electroencephalography and research design to the public with hands-on demonstration.

2012: Walk Now for Autism Speaks. Seattle Center. Two-mile walk to raise awareness and providing support for Autism Speaks. Engagement with the public by organizing a kiosk and providing information about research studies and participation.