Laboratories of Cognitive Neuroscience | Research Projects

Here at the Laboratories of Cognitive Neuroscience, we are working to shed light on these questions through a variety of ongoing child and adolescent development research studies. By learning more about brain and behavior development across the lifespan, we aim to contribute to the healthy growth and development of our children.

The Faja Laboratory

  • Plasticity and treatment response. Can existing training programs be adapted for clinical use? Which aspects of behavior and neural function change in response to intervention?
  • Individual differences. How can we understand the vast differences in children with autism spectrum disorders? Do we see the same patterns in typical development? Can we better predict which individuals will respond to interventions or may benefit from combinations of treatments?
  • Autism spectrum disorders. What risk factors are associated with specific aspects of autism? How can we better measure the strengths and challenges of all individuals with autism spectrum disorders? How can we better understand and support individuals with autism later in life?

The Wilkinson Laboratory

  • Brain-based biomarkers of language acquisition in neurodevelopmental disorders. Several studies in our lab focus on identifying biomarkers of language development in young children at risk for severe language impairment, including infant siblings of children with autism spectrum disorders, and genetic disorders such as Fragile X syndrome and Down syndrome. Biomarkers identified through these studies could be used as objective measures of language prognosis, treatment monitoring during clinical trials, and development of effective therapies.
  • Early brain development. We are interested in understanding biological and environmental factors that impact early brain development and, in turn, functional outcomes in children. What is the expected developmental trajectory of a variety of EEG-based brain measures over the first three years of life? Are individual differences in developmental trajectory associated with developmental outcomes, and if so, what factors mediate these individual differences?

The Arnett Laboratory

  • School-aged children with ADHD and related neurodevelopmental disorders. What cognitive, neuropsychological, and genetic factors are associated with diagnoses of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and associated symptoms?
  • Preschool-aged children at risk for ADHD. Are there neurocognitive differences that we can measure using EEG and neuropsychological testing that will predict which children at risk for ADHD will go on to develop the disorder in later childhood?
  • Brain-based biomarkers associated with neurodevelopmental disorders. What can neurobiological markers of ADHD and neurodevelopmental disorders tell us about the origin of these symptoms? How can these biomarkers help us develop individualized treatment plans for each child and family?

The Nelson Laboratory    

  • The ability to recognize faces and emotions. How do infants and children learn to process the social information that faces convey? What is happening differently for children with autism spectrum disorders, who often struggle with everyday social interactions? Are there links between how social information is processed in infancy and children who later develop problems with anxiety?
  • The impacts of early biological and psychosocial adversity.  How do such experiences impact brain development? Can we identify ways to remediate some of the negative impacts? What would early intervention look like for children exposed to adversity early in life?
  • Infants and children at high risk for developing Autism Spectrum Disorder. How early in life can we identify infants who will later develop autism?  And, can our brain-based measures of autism shed light on why some children develop autism and others do not?