I.     Components of higher cognition

In our research involving healthy young adults, we examine various cognitive processes that underlie complex human behaviors, like goal-directed behavior, learning and memory, and reasoning. In particular, the lab has studied how we 1) use rules to select appropriate responses under different circumstances, 2) exert control over our behavioral responses, 3) retrieve and use relevant information from long-term memory, 4) manipulate, compare, and integrate mental representations in the service of reasoning, and 5) use prior knowledge to scaffold learning. We also examine how education shapes cognitive abilities and the brain. To investigate these phenomena, we design cognitive measures and conduct behavioral, neuroimaging, and eyetracking studies.

II.    Development and plasticity of higher cognition

In our research involving children and adolescents, we study how and why the high-level cognitive abilities outlined above change over development, how they are shaped by experiences such as education and home environment, and why some individuals develop stronger cognitive skills than others. To this end, we relate changes in higher-level cognitive abilities to brain structure and function. We also use eye gaze metrics to track thought processes on a moment-by-moment basis, so as to more carefully pinpoint the processes of change. We have also begun to study how brain injury affects brain development. Our ultimate goal is to better understand why some children recover better than others from pediatric acquired brain injury, so as to provide insights regarding the most promising approaches to intervention for an individual child.

To sign up for a current study, please look under “Participate”. To learn about the studies we’ve completed, please look under “Publications”.