The mother of three visited the University College London to see a professor and his neuroscience research unit

By Simon Perry
November 21, 2018 09:38 AM
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Kate Middleton stepped out on Wednesday to highlight the next chapter in her public work.

Her visit to the University College London to see a professor and his neuroscience research unit was, on the face of it, one of her less glamorous, more serious duties. But behind it was a desire to learn more – and take the public with her via the media – about the next stage in her plan to help tackle challenges facing young people.

Princess Kate — who recycled a burgundy Paule Ka skirt and watching blazer in a similar shade to Meghan Markle‘s ensemble on her separate outing of the day — wants to champion the importance of providing solid social and emotional foundations for children in order that their development and emotional resilience as infants can be supported and they can be set on the best pathway for a happy and healthy adulthood, her office says.

Observers say the royal, 36, came fully prepared with questions about the “fascinating” research and its impact on families.

The Duchess Of Cambridge Visits A UCL Developmental Neuroscience Lab
Ka
| Credit: Neil Mockford/GC Images
The Duchess Of Cambridge Visits A UCL Developmental Neuroscience Lab
Kate Middleton
| Credit: Neil Mockford/GC Images

“The Duchess is fantastic,” said Professor Eamon McCrory, Co-Director of the Developmental Risk and Resilience Unit in the Psychology & Language Sciences Division. “Her level of interest is extraordinary, and she has a genuine interest and hunger to understand the science and really think about how the science can help us re-frame our approach to early years and help parents and families, and society to understand the critical importance of the first few years of life.”

He added, “If we are able to develop ways to support children and parents and how as society we invest. It is hugely encouraging and huge positive to have her involved. It helps to widen public awareness off the early years and neuroscience is just one lens that we can use to understand what is happening.”

Earlier this year, she quietly brought together practitioners and academics from the worlds of neuroscience, mental health, nursing, perinatal care and education in a steering group. They have met several times behind-the-scenes to discuss what can be done to make a positive difference to the lives of children by focusing on their earliest stage of life, from pre-birth to infancy.

The Duchess Of Cambridge Visits A UCL Developmental Neuroscience Lab
Kate Middleton
| Credit: Neil Mockford/GC Images

This desire for early intervention to help youngsters has been at the heart of Kate’s work on addiction, mental health and young peoples’ well-being.

The mother of three heard from Prof. McCrory how research into how environment and biology interact to shape the way in which children develop both socially and emotionally.

His unit aims to better understand the factors that contribute to healthy development, as well as those that are linked to the emergence of behavioral and emotional problems in children. Research into developmental risk and resilience has scope to inform professionals and policy makers in ways that can improve the lives of children and families.

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In the Unit’s MRI Scanning Facility, she was shown how the scanner is used to study the brain, and she heard from some of Professor McCrory’s neuroscience research team about how they work closely with children and families to shed new light on resilience following early adversity.

Kate, who was the inspiration behind the younger royals’ Heads Together mental health campaign, then joined a round table meeting with leading researchers and students to learn about the wider ambition for developmental neuroscience.

The Duchess Of Cambridge Visits A UCL Developmental Neuroscience Lab

Some of their work focuses on the early parent-infant bond and how it develops; on neural plasticity (the extraordinary ability of the brain to adapt in the early years); and how genetic and environmental factors contribute to the development of conduct problems. This research helps build an understanding of early childhood development.

The Duchess Of Sussex Visits The Hubb Community Kitchen
Meghan Markle
| Credit: Chris Jackson/Getty Images

Her visit to University College London came only a few hours after her sister-in-law, Meghan, Duchess of Sussex, 37, headed out to see one of her key projects too: the Hubb Community Kitchen, with whom she helped create a cookbook to help their project.