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Dr. Leslie Atkinson profile

Dr. Leslie Atkinson, C.Psych.

EducationPhD, York University
Phone416-979-5000 x6993
Areas of Expertisedevelopment; psychopathology; attachment; early adversity; physiology


Leslie Atkinson entered graduate school at York University with a strong interest in research and clinical work with developmentally atypical populations.  His current research interests involve developmental psychopathology, the study of early biological, psychological, and social factors that influence the course of development, typical and atypical.  This interest is the result not only of his graduate training, but of subsequent work at Whitby Psychiatric Hospital with adults with extreme mental health difficulties, Surrey Place Centre with children and adults with intellectual disabilities and their families, and the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health, Child, Youth, and Family Programme.  His research at Whitby Psychiatric Hospital and Surrey Place Centre focused on psychometrics, the study of constructs and how best to measure them.  His work in psychometrics has greatly influenced his subsequent research on development.  In his lab, constructs are carefully defined and measured, typically multiple times, using varied methodology, such that the possibility of error is reduced and the understanding of what is being measured is augmented.

Dr. Atkinson came to Ryerson University in 2007.  His current work focuses on the “root causes” of psychopathology, starting in infancy.  He studies attachment, attention, emotion regulation, genetics, and physiology as these influence and are influenced by development.  In this regard, Dr. Atkinson’s lab collaborates with other psychologists, neuroscientists, psychiatrists, geneticists, and physiologists in a truly multidisciplinary approach to developmental psychopathology. 

Dr. Atkinson has been privileged to work with some truly extraordinary graduate students, postdoctoral fellows, and research assistants who embrace one or more aspects of this research and move it in some fascinating directions.  The courses he particularly enjoys teaching include Psychological Assessment, Systematic Reviews and Meta-Analysis, Child Behaviour Disorders, and Psychometrics.



Selected Publications

Atkinson, L., Jamieson, B., Khoury, J.E., Ludmer, J., & Gonzalez, A. (2016). Stress physiology in infancy and early childhood: Cortisol flexibility, attunement, and coordination. Journal of Neuroendocrinology28, doi: 10.1111/jne.12408.

Khoury, J., Gonzalez, A., Levitan, R., Masellis, M., Basile, V., & Atkinson, L. (2016). Infant emotion regulation strategy moderates relations between maternal depressive symptoms and infant HPA activity. Infant and Child Development, 25, 64-83.

Ludmer, J., Levitan, R., Gonzalez, A., Kennedy, J., Villani, V., Masellis, M., Basile, V., & Atkinson, L. (2015). DRD2 and DAT1 genotypes as moderators of the relation between maternal depressive symptoms and infant cortisol reactivity. Psychoneuroendocrinology62, 243-251.

Atkinson, L., Beitchman, J., Gonzalez, A., Young, A., Wilson, B., Escobar, M., Chisholm, V., Brownlie, E.B., Khoury, J.E., Ludmer, J. & Villani, V. (2015). Cumulative risk, cumulative outcome: A 20-year longitudinal study. PLOS ONE. DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0127650.