Matt Davidson's research program targets a better understanding of the development of executive functions, including attention, working memory and cognitive control. Current studies are exploring the effects of physical activity on cognitive abilities and emotional stability in children and young adults, including gender related differences before, during, and after puberty. The influence of individual differences in genetic makeup are being tested in a gene x environment investigation of neurogrowth factors and physical activity. Finally, neuroimaging techniques are being used to address questions about the neural networks and transmitter/hormonal systems underlying these differences.
This interdisciplinary approach allows Dr. Davidson's lab to test interactions between different factors at several levels of analysis and will eventually provide a more holistic understanding of the benefits of physical activity. As a Family Research Scholar, Davidson prepared several grant proposals to test the effects of physical activity on cognitive abilities across development. The broader impacts of this research will be to expand scientific knowledge about these effects in humans and to encourage active lifestyles for children, adolescents, and adults.