Linda Mayes, M.D.

Linda Mayes, M.D.

Arnold Gesell Professor of Child Psychiatry, Pediatrics, and Psychology; Yale Child Study Center Chairman; Directorial Team Anna Freud Centre, London

Dr. Linda Mayes is the Arnold Gesell Professor of Child Psychiatry, Pediatrics, and Psychology in the Yale Child Study Center. After graduating from the University of the South in 1973, she received her medical degree at Vanderbilt University in 1977. Following an internship and residency in pediatrics, she spent two years as a fellow with Dr. Mildred Stahlman at Vanderbilt in the division of neonatology and worked in the area of developmental outcome of high-risk preterm infants. Dr. Mayes’s interest in the long-term impact of perinatal biological and psychosocial stressors developed during that fellowship and she came to Yale in 1982 to do a Robert Wood Johnson General Academic Pediatrics fellowship. In her Yale fellowship, she began a close collaboration with the department of psychology and Dr. William Kessen and with investigators in the Child Study Center including Dr. Donald Cohen. She joined the Center’s faculty in 1985 and established a laboratory for studying infant learning and attention. Subsequently, she also developed a neurophysiology laboratory for studies of the startle response and related indices of emotional regulation in children and adolescents and currently oversees the Developmental Electrophysiology Laboratory that includes dense array electroencephalography as a method for studying brain activity in real time.

Dr. Mayes’s research integrates perspectives from child development, behavioral neuroscience, psychophysiology and neurobiology, developmental psychopathology, and neurobehavioral teratology. She has published widely in the developmental psychology, pediatrics, and child psychiatry literature. Her work focuses on stress-response and regulatory mechanisms in young children at both biological and psychosocial risk. She has made contributions to understanding the mechanisms of effect of prenatal stimulant exposure on the ontogeny of arousal regulatory systems and the relation between dysfunctional emotional regulation and impaired prefrontal cortical function in young children. Her laboratory currently follows two longitudinal cohorts—one exposed to drugs prenatally and whose participants are now adolescents and another cohort of preschool aged children growing up in varying degrees of psychosocial adversity with the study focusing on the impact of economic deprivation on emerging executive control functions in preschool and early school-aged children. Given the nature of her work with children at significantly high-risk for developmental impairments from both biological and psychosocial etiologies, Dr. Mayes also focuses on the impact of parenting on the development of arousal and attention regulatory mechanisms in their children. With other colleagues in the Center, she studies how adults transition to parenthood and the basic neural circuitry of early parent-infant attachment using both neuroimaging and electroencephalographic techniques. Most recently, she and her colleagues in the Center have developed a series of interventions for parents including an intensive home-based program called Minding the Baby and a group based intervention for parents called Parents First. Her research programs are multidisciplinary not only in their blending basic science with clinical interventions but also in the disciplines required including adult and child psychiatry, behavioral neuroscience, obstetrics, pediatrics, and neuropsychology. Indeed, in her work, Dr. Mayes’ collaborates across a number of departments—pediatrics, surgery and anesthesia, psychiatry, psychology—and has international (Israel, Great Britain, Canada, Italy) and national collaborators. She is a visiting professor at University College London where she participates regularly as a member of a research faculty training program and is also on the adjunct faculty of the University of Connecticut.

Dr. Mayes is also trained as an adult and child psychoanalyst and is the chairman of the directorial team of the Anna Freud Centre in London as well as the coordinator of the Anna Freud Centre program at the Yale Child Study Center. In this capacity, she focuses on developing research relevant to basic psychoanalytic theories of mental development as well as mentoring young scholars interested in the interface between psychoanalytic theory and developmental science. With her colleagues Peter Fonagy, Ph.D. and Mary Target, Ph.D. in London, she oversees a new masters program in psychodynamic developmental neuroscience offered collaboratively between University College London and the Yale School of Medicine.

Clinically, Dr. Mayes coordinates the Center’s programs on research and clinical services for infants and young children. The early childhood section of the Center’s Harris Child Development Unit offers a range of assessments and therapeutic services for families of infants and preschool children and also for parents.