Ph.D., Clinical Criminologist
Dr. Leshem is a senior lecturer and serves as Deputy Head of the Undergraduate Program at Bar-Ilan University’s Criminology Department. Her academic credentials include masters and doctoral degrees in Clinical Criminology from Bar-Ilan University and a Certificate in Psychotherapy from Ben-Gurion University of the Negev. Dr. Leshem completed her postdoctoral training at UCLA’s Cognitive Neuroscience Lab, funded by an International Outgoing Fellowship (IOF) from the Marie Curie Actions People Program. While pursuing interdisciplinary research focused broadly on impulsivity and related cognitive functions, she has also amassed extensive experience as a therapist addressing emotional and behavioral challenges in adolescents with emotional and behavioral difficulties at various government institutions for at-risk youth. She also serves as an official prison visitor for the Israel Prison Service (Ministry of Internal Security). Bringing these worlds together, she believes strongly that ties with the community are crucial to advancing both theoretical research in Criminology and practical applications for at-risk populations.
I seek to understand social behavior, particularly impulsivity and aggression, in my work with various adolescent and adult populations with and without criminal backgrounds. Combining behavioral and neuroimaging methods in criminology, psychology and neuroscience, my interdisciplinary approach leans on research in three interrelated areas: personality, social cognition, and neurobiology.
The fundamental premise guiding my work is that reciprocal ties between the social environment and neurological substrates ultimately determine human behavior. By strengthening or weakening integrative communication among the neural systems underlying emotion and cognition, environmental factors and life experiences can influence and modify behavior.
MAIN RESEARCH INTERESTS
Personality traits, particularly impulsivity, and their association with emotion/reward-driven versus goal-driven behaviors.
Emotion identification and emotional processing in relation to impulsivity and aggressive behavior.
Executive functions recruited during decision-making, emotional and behavioral regulation, and mindful attention.
Hemispheric specialization and brain mechanisms underlying cognitive functions, particularly attention, language and emotion.
Current and past research in the lab and the field:
Using metaphoric language to identify impulsivity and planned and unplanned aggressive behavior among adolescents and adults.
Effects of mindfulness training (mindful attention) on emotional and behavioral regulation.
Ties between physical state (physical activity, motion), cognition (attention and concentration, emotional and behavioral regulation, conscious and goal-directed behavior) and emotion (negative and positive emotions).
Assessment of emotional and cognitive skills among adolescents with criminal records in a vocational educational project for at-risk youth, aimed at providing occupational and life skills to enable community integration – in collaboration with the "Youth of Light” non-profit organization.
Processing and identifying emotions in spoken language among individuals with schizophrenia convicted of violent crimes – in collaboration with the Maximum Secure Unit, Sha’ar Menashe Mental Health Center.
Emotion identification ability among violent males with criminal backgrounds – in collaboration with Israel’s Adult Probation Service.