The Program in Developmental Cognitive Neuroscience integrates developmental, cognitive, neuroscience and molecular genetic approaches to examine fundamental questions about the development of “executive functions” (cognitive control abilities such as selective attention, working memory, inhibitory control, and cognitive flexibility) and “social cognition” (abilities such as recognizing and responding to observed actions, understanding body language, and reading emotions and intentions of others), which rely on complex functional networks of the brain.
These abilities are critically important for success in all life’s aspects. Dysfunction in these plays a major role in a great many psychiatric and developmental disorders. Executive function abilities include being able to keep your attention focused, stay on task, complete what you start, exercise self-control, and creatively and flexibly switch perspectives (“think outside the box”). Social cognition enables effective communication, cooperation, and everyday interactions with other people.
Research studies in this program examine the brain systems underlying executive functions and social cognition, quantifying their organization and functional dynamics using fMRI and high-density EEG. They also examine the modulation of executive functions and social cognition by genes, neurochemistry, learning, and the environment (including detrimental environmental factors such as poverty and facilitative ones such as school programs). A key aspect of this work is to investigate how these critical cognitive functions are affected in disorders such as ADHD or autism, and to identify effective treatments or educational programs that can prevent or ameliorate such disorders.
Visit Developmental Cognitive Neuroscience for more information on research and people.
Dr. Adele Diamond
Department of Psychiatry
University of British Columbia
Fax: 604 822-7232
LAB: 604 822-7404 or 827-3074