Children are undergoing the very processes that cognitive scientists and neuroscientists seek to understand: they acquire new facts, memories and skills, build and revise intuitive theories about people, objects, and space, and develop and foster social relationships with others. How does the brain support these remarkable achievements?

My research characterizes the relationship between social cognitive achievements in childhood and specific aspects of brain development, in order to inform theories of cognitive development and address basic science questions about the human brain. In particular, my research characterizes the neural correlates and predictors of children’s developing “theory of mind” – the intuitive theory of others’ beliefs, desires, and emotions that we rely on to predict and explain others’ behavior.

I earned my PhD in Neuroscience from the Department of Brain and Cognitive Sciences at MIT, under the supervision of Dr. Rebecca Saxe. I then completed a postdoctoral research fellow in the Laboratories of Cognitive Neuroscience at Boston Children’s Hospital & Harvard Medical School, working with Dr. Charles Nelson. In August 2020, I began a Lectureship in the School of Philosophy, Psychology and Language Sciences at the University of Edinburgh.

I am interested in taking on PhD students (applications due Nov. 25, 2020). Please email me to discuss further!  



Publications and Resources
Electronic versions of publications are provided to ensure timely dissemination of academic work. They can be downloaded for noncommercial purposes. Copyright resides with the respective copyright holders, as stated in each article. The files may not be reposted without permission from copyright holders. 

Richardson, H., Taylor, J., Kane-Grade, F., Powell, L., Bosquet-Enlow, M., Nelson, C. (in prep). Preferential Responses to Faces in Superior Temporal and Medial Prefrontal Cortex in Three-Year-Old Children.

Richardson, H., Koster-Hale, J., Caselli, N., Magid, R., Benedict, R., Olson, H., Pyers, J., Saxe, R. (2020). Reduced Neural Selectivity for Mental States in Deaf Children with Delayed Access to Sign Language. Nature Communications, 11 (1), 1-13. [Manuscript, Abstract in American Sign Language;  Resources: Preprint; Materials and Analysis Plans]

Richardson, H., Gweon, H., Dodell-Feder, D., Malloy, C., Pelton, H., Keil, B., Kanwisher, N., Saxe, R. (2020). Response Patterns in the Developing Social Brain are Organized by Social and Emotion Features and Disrupted in Children Diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder. Cortex, 125, 12-29. [Preprint; Resources: Stimuli, Data, Analysis Plan and Code]

Richardson, H., Saxe, R. (2019). Development of Predictive Responses in Theory of Mind Brain Regions. Developmental Science. [Preprint; Resources: Timecourse Data; Movie Stimulus]

Richardson, H. (2019). Development of Brain Networks for Social Functions: Confirmatory Analyses in a Large Open Source Dataset. Developmental Cognitive Neuroscience. [PDF; Resources: Movie Stimulus; HBN Dataset]

Richardson, H., Lisandrelli, G., Riobueno-Naylor, A., Saxe, R. (2018). Development of the social brain from age three to twelve years. Nature Communications, 9(1), 1027. [Manuscript; MIT News Press Release; Resources: Behavioral Theory of Mind Battery; Run the Experiment; Movie StimulusfMRI Data]

Kliemann, D., Richardson, H., Anzellotti, S., Ayyash, D., Haskins, A., Gabrieli, J., Saxe, R. (2018). Cortical responses to dynamic emotional facial expressions generalize across stimuli, and are sensitive to task-relevance, in adults with and without Autism. Cortex. [PDF]

Koster-Hale, J.*, Richardson, H.*, Velez-Alicea, N., Asaba, M., Young, L., Saxe, R. (2017). Mentalizing regions represent continuous, abstract dimensions of others’ beliefs. Neuroimage. (*joint first authorship) [PDF; Resources: fMRI Data & Stimuli]

Deen, B., Richardson, H., Dilks, D., Takahashi, A., Keil, B., Wald, L., Kanwisher, N., Saxe, R. (2017). Category-sensitive visual cortex in human infants. Nature Communications. [PDF]

Lane, C., Kanjlia, S., Richardson, H., Fulton, A., Omaki, A., Bedny, M. (2016) Reduced left-lateralization of language in congenitally blind individuals. Journal of Cognitive Neuroscience. [PDF]

Bedny, M., Richardson, H., Saxe, R. (2015). “Visual” cortex responds to spoken language in blind children. The Journal of Neuroscience, 35(33), 11674-11681. [PDF]

Koldewyn, K., Yendiki, A., Weigelt, S., Gweon, H., Julian, J., Richardson, H., Malloy, C., Saxe, R., Fischl, B., Kanwisher, N. (2014). Differences in the right inferior longitudinal fasciculus but no general disruption of white matter tracts in children with autism spectrum disorder. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 201324037. [PDF]

 Richardson, H.L., Baker, C.L., Tenenbaum, J.B., & Saxe, R.R. (2012). The Development of Joint Belief-Desire Inferences. In Proceedings of the Thirty-Fourth Annual Conference of the Cognitive Science Society (pp. 923-928). [PDF]

Book Chapters
Richardson, H., Saxe, R. (2020). Early Signatures and Developmental Change in Brain Regions for Theory of Mind. In J. Rubenstein & P. Rakic (Eds.) Neural Circuit and Cognitive Development, Second Edition, Volume 2.

Richardson, H., Saxe, R. (2016). Using MRI to study developmental change in Theory of Mind. In Social Cognition: Development Across the Life Span.


Richardson, H.
(2012). New Discoveries about the Developing Brain. Future Reflections, 31 (1). [LINK]


For a dynamic list of publications, please check my Google Scholar profile.

For resources and analysis plans, please see my profile on the Open Science Framework (OSF).