How do foundational perceptual and cognitive abilities interact with developmental experience to give rise to full-fledged uniquely human knowledge?
The Cognitive and Developmental Neuroscience (CoDeNeuro) Lab studies human cognition and cognitive development using behavioral and neuroimaging (fMRI and EEG) measures in children, adolescents, and adults. They focus on understanding the developmental mechanisms and neural underpinnings of culturally transmitted, uniquely human cognitive domains such as reading and mathematics.
The ultimate goal of their research is to advance our theoretical understanding of the nature of human knowledge and to help develop new pedagogical approaches for improving an important academic skillset for the next generations.
From left to right: Michele Fornaciai, Eli Zaleznik, Courtney McMahon, Diego Guerrero, Brynn Boutin, Xingjie Chen, Jihyun Hwang and Joonkoo Park.
The CoDeNeuro Lab is gathering data on the event-driven activity of the brain. The electrical patterns produced by clusters of neurons are recorded with a 64-electrode Electroencephalogram (EEG) cap. The EEG machine amplifies the signals and brain wave data is recorded in graph form on a computer.
Numbered electrodes rest on the head in specific locations. A conductive gel is inserted between the electrode and scalp, creating a connection to the electrical activity of the brain.
During one study, audio recordings of letters and numbers in short sequences are played while the subject listens. Routine prompts are answered by pressing buttons on a computer controller. The neuroscientists learn about how our brains process numbers and letters.
A subject's live brain waves are displayed for him during a demonstration of the EEG system.
Each location’s corresponding brain wave data is recorded and displayed on a computer screen in real time. When sequences of audio recordings are played, the researchers can see how the brain is reacting at that exact point in time. After a participant’s data is recorded, analysis is performed regularly to look for any abnormalities, keeping the study on track.
The lab's waiting room receives children, adolescents, and adults as research participants.
Lab members use a variety of EEG cap sizes to accommodate different people.