Emily Morson

Writer|Blogger|Editor. Clear, Concise, Creative.

United States

Medical writer and editor specializing in the brain and neurodivergence, seeking entry-level positions with opportunities to develop my skills. I write and edit for 2 audiences:
1) For researchers & medical professionals: journal articles, research grant proposals, book chapters, presentations.
2) For patients and the public: blog posts, health communication, and science writing.

You can commission me to proofread at https://ko-fi.com/mosaicofminds or by email.

I am a contributing blogger and editor for nonprofit organization Kind Theory. I completed University of Chicago's Medical Writing and Editing certificate program in June, 2023.

Formative Experiences:
*10 years as a cognitive neuroscientist and research consultant, publishing 4 peer reviewed research papers and writing and editing grant proposals.
* 2 years as a student speech/language therapist, developing communication skills and experience in clinical settings (and writing many clinical reports and SOAP notes).
14 years writing the Mosaic of Minds neuroscience blog, and its associated X account.


Science Communication

Mosaic of Minds (Substack)
Maps in the Brain

Neurons aren't arranged at random. In some areas of the cortex (the mitten-shaped section we normally just think of as "the brain"), neurons are laid out in maps based on the properties of stimuli to which they respond. The response patterns of the neurons change systematically as you move across the cortical sheet.

Mosaic of Minds (Substack)
The Brain Evolved from the Inside Out

The human brain is the culmination of a long evolutionary process. This visual tour of the brain, from fish to humans, will show the order in which its different parts evolved.

Mosaic of Minds (Substack)
Speech versus Language versus Communication

During my orientation to a training program in speech/language therapy, the teachers instructed us to play a game. The goal was simple: we had to arrange ourselves in line by age. Most of us were strangers, ranging from fresh out of college to forty-something. We were given a challenge: we had to accomplish this without speaking.

Mosaic of Minds (Substack)
What do we trust when research and lived experience conflict? (Part 2)

When experimental research and lived experience of disabilities come to conflicting conclusions, what should we believe? The problem becomes personal for autistic people who research autism - or anyone who researches their own disability. I think both experimental research and lived experience are valuable, and they're best suited to answer different questions.

Mosaic of Minds blog
What is joint attention, and are we defining it wrong?

Most humans have an important skill: the ability to share attention. They can pay attention to the same thing, each knowing the other person is also attending to and thinking about it. The way researchers define it, though, joint attention means looking back and forth between another person and an object, a complex series of eye movements. But in most of the world's cultures, sharing attention often occurs through other senses. Even in the US, people can share attention without looking at...

Mosaic of Minds (Medium)
How can you measure a non-speaking person's understanding of language?

The autism community has become increasingly concerned about understanding people with no spoken language, and often, severe developmental delays. Fortunately, psychology offers a variety of tools for learning about the mental life of people who cannot speak, most of which involve measuring eye movements.

Mosaic of Minds blog
Does Language Develop Differently in Autism? (Part 2)

Experts have long claimed that autistic people learn and use language differently than other people. What is language in autism like, and is there anything unique about it at all? Morton Ann Gernsbacher, Elizabeth Grace, and I investigated studies done from 2000-2015 with every language skill at all ages.

Mosaic of Minds blog
Does language develop differently in autism? (Part 1)

What my mentor and I learned from surveying the research on language in autism from 2000 to ~2015. Although language does not feature in the current "diagnostic Bible," the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual-5, yet when autism first appeared in the 1980 DSM, one of the few criteria was "gross deficits in language development" (APA, 1980). So, do autistic people develop language differently, and if so, how? The answers may surprise you...

Mosaic of Minds blog
How to read an autism research paper

Scientific papers can be hard to read. But it's not just the jargon that makes them difficult. Scientific papers, like poetry, are meant to be read in special ways. Researchers know how to read studies efficiently, and you can learn, too.

Disability and Neurodivergence

Mosaic of Minds (Substack)
What's the relationship between autism and trauma?

Over the past few decades, both autism and trauma have become better understood and more frequently diagnosed. Researchers, clinicians, and autistic people themselves all perceive a relationship between autism and trauma. However, we don't yet know why or how they're related. Do autistic children face more bullying and abuse, which is traumatizing?

Disabilities are Created by Culture and Technology

Imagine a person with a reading disability who reads slowly and effortfully. Text surrounds them constantly, demanding to be read: news articles, emails, work documents, tax forms, user's manuals, street signs, and menus. This omnipresent text puts people with reading disabilities at a disadvantage.

Kind Theory - Neurodiversity Education
Law Enforcement is Failing the Autistic Community - Kind Theory

Law Enforcement is Failing the Autistic Community Here's How Kind Theory is Addressing this Huge Overlooked Equity Issue Autistic people in our communities have good reason to fear interacting with law enforcement.People with disabilities, including neurodivergent people, are disproportionately likely to interact with police. These experiences are often negative.

In Honor of Disability Day of Mourning (March 1)

In March 2012, Stephanie Rochester suffocated her six month old son, Rylan. On May 13, 2006, Karen McCarron killed her 3 year old daughter, Katherine. [See Mel Baggs' moving letter to Katherine here]. In July 2010, Saiqa Akhter strangled her 5 year old son, Zain, and her 2 year old daughter, Faryaal, then called a 911 operator to confess.

Sticks, Stones, and ADHD (Medium publication)
Knowing how much to push and when to stop: Lessons from Yoga

Imagine a middle aged person whose job involves sitting in a chair for hours. They live in the suburbs, drive everywhere, rarely walk, and never have to lift heavy objects. Not surprisingly, this person has put on a little weight around the middle. When they first go to the gym, what exercise should they start with, and for how long?

Sticks, Stones, and ADHD (Medium publication)
Growing Up "Wrong": A Different Reality

"What if you were told the way you experience the world is wrong? What if they told you the way you move is wrong? What if they told you the way you talk and think and write is wrong? What if you could never say no? What if this was called therapy?"

Academic Writing

When is a picture not worth 1000 words? (Unpublished masters thesis)

Abstract Purpose: The seductive detail effect (SDE) occurs when irrelevant text or images reduce learning of important content. Well established with adults, the SDE also affects children, who may be especially susceptible as they are increasingly surrounded by images meant to engage rather than inform.

Annual Review of Linguistics
Language and Speech in Autism

Abstract: Autism is a developmental disability characterized by atypical social interaction, interests or body movements, and communication. Our review examines the empirical status of three communication phenomena believed to be unique to autism: pronoun reversal (using the pronoun you when the pronoun I is intended, and vice versa), echolalia (repeating what someone has said), and a reduced or even reversed production-comprehension lag (a reduction or reversal of the well-established...

Chapter cowritten with Morton Ann Gernsbacher and Elizabeth J. Grace in The Neurobiology of Language, edited by G. Hickok and S. Small, pp. 879-886.
Language Development in Autism

Abstract: Abnormal language development used to define autism, but no longer does. Indeed, language development no longer even figures into contemporary diagnostic criteria, although early delays in language often lead to parents’ concerns. In this chapter, we review recent empirical research on language development in autism. To paint a contemporary picture, we restrict our review to studies published in the 21st century. We conclude that language development in autism is often delayed,...

Cognitive Neuroscience
Fast mapping is a laboratory task, not a cognitive capacity

ABSTRACT Fast Mapping is a laboratory task that typically involves an experimenter creating a nonsense name for an object the participant has never seen before. We demonstrate how researchers’ use of the term Fast Mapping has extended beyond its core meaning as a laboratory task to more abstractly denote an internal process, a skill that children employ in their everyday lives, and an inherent capacity. We argue that such over-extension is problematic.

Cognitive Science
Children's Understanding of the Natural Numbers’ Structure

Abstract: When young children attempt to locate numbers along a number line, they show logarithmic (or other compressive) placement. For example, the distance between “5” and “10” is larger than the distance between “75” and “80.” This has often been explained by assuming that children have a logarithmically scaled mental representation of number (e.g., Berteletti, Lucangeli, Piazza, Dehaene, & Zorzi, 2010; Siegler & Opfer, 2003). However, several investigators have questioned this argument...

Unpublished undergraduate honors thesis
How does skilled conditional reasoning develop?: Testing structural intuition in young gifted...

Abstract Several theories claim that a high working memory span is needed for accurate conditional reasoning, placing it out of reach for children under 12. Yet prior research (Wolf & Shigaki 1983) suggests gifted 5-8 year olds may reason at adultlike levels, despite age-typical working memory. However, this research did not test gifted children on the problems which are considered impossible for young children, the ones with uncertain solutions. To extend these findings, we compare...

Alzheimer's Association International Conference: P3-01: Poster Presentations

We report clinical outcomes from a 12-week music intervention for PWD. In contrast to previous music therapy programs, Bridging Memory Through Music (BMTM) provides dyadic PWD-caregiver involvement, perceptive and expressive participation, music preferences of PWDs and caregiver training to elicit better communication and improve participants’ affect.

Personal Essays

Kind Theory - Neurodiversity Education
Being Misunderstood, Part 4: We Can Communicate Better With Neurodivergent People By Imagining...

Being Misunderstood, Part 4: We Can Communicate Better With Neurodivergent People By Imagining We're Talking to Someone from Another Culture An effective way to create mutual understanding with neurodivergent people is to act as if we're interacting with someone from a different culture.In the previous 3 posts, we saw that throughout life, neurodivergent people are

Kind Theory - Neurodiversity Education
Being Misunderstood 3: We Expect to be Misunderstood - Kind Theory

Being Misunderstood 3: We Expect to be Misunderstood Neurodivergent People Expect to be Misunderstood...and That Only Makes Things Worse From early childhood on, neurodivergent people are often misunderstood. My previous two posts in this series explain why it happens so often.