Researchers and educators tend to focus on one aspect of a person in isolation.
We expect to show that focusing exclusively on training cognition might not be the best way to improve cognition; emotional and social factors might be key to whether cognition improves.
Traditional activities that have been part of all cultures throughout time (e.g., dance, music-making, play and sports) address all these aspects of a person -- they challenge our EFs (requiring focus, concentration, and working memory), make us happy and proud, provide a sense of belonging, and help our bodies develop.
Physicians decide on the optimal psychostimulant dose for a child with ADHD by asking the childs parent how the child is doing on different doses.
The parent bases his/her answer on the childs behavior. Another goal of the lab is to find practical ways to help children develop healthy EFs, and thus to help more children thrive.
One goal of the lab is to examine fundamental questions about how PFC and EFs are influenced by biological factors (such as genes and neurochemistry) and by environmental factors (including detrimental influences such as poverty or stress and facilitative ones such as interventions).
For example, the lab examines ways in which unusual properties of the PFC dopamine system contribute to the exceptional sensitivity and vulnerability of PFC and EFs to environmental and genetic variations that have little effect elsewhere in the brain, and how at least some of these effects are different in men and women. Cognitive deficits in a genetic mouse model of the most common biochemical cause of human mental retardation. Social and/or emotional aspects of, or adjuncts to, a program to improve cognitive skills might be key to whether and/or how much that program succeeds. We hope our research might fundamentally change the approach and underlying assumptions (i.e., shift the paradigm) of how to improve cognitive skills and how to educate children. A model system for studying the role of dopamine in prefrontal cortex during early development in humans. Developmental psychologists called it A-not-B and used it to study cognitive development in infants; neuroscientists called it delayed response and used it to study the functions of prefrontal cortex (PFC) in monkeys. Building on that insight, she undertook a systematic program of research to chart the developmental progression of human infants on A-not-B and delayed response plus a transparent barrier task (to obtain converging evidence from a very different paradigm), the developmental progression of infant monkeys on the 3 tasks, the effect of lesions on adult monkeys' performance of those tasks, and the effect of lesions on infant monkeys' performance of the tasks (see Table below). It also fundamentally altered the scientific understanding of PFC early in development; clearly it was not silent as accepted wisdom had held. Normal development of prefrontal cortex from birth to young adulthood: Cognitive functions, anatomy, and biochemistry. Recently we have turned our attention to the possible roles of music, dance, storytelling, traditional martial arts, positive sports, yoga, mindfulness, and even circus for improving executive functions, academic outcomes and mental and physical health.