Longitudinal development of attention and executive functions during the first year of life

7th of March 2017 at 13.00 (External Seminar) 
Location. B34 Malet Street, Birkbeck College

Dr Karla Holmboe University of Essex

Longitudinal development of attention and executive functions during the first year of life

Executive functions (EF) are a set of skills that allow us to control our thoughts and actions in everyday life. These skills improve rapidly during early childhood as children develop their working memory capacity, their ability to exert inhibitory control, and their cognitive flexibility. Evidence suggests that early forms of EF, such as the ability to inhibit a prepotent response, are in place around 9 months of age. However, little is known about whether such abilities exist earlier than this. It is also possible that more basic attentional processes in early infancy form the ‘building blocks’ of emerging EF towards the end of the first year of life. In this talk, I will present data from a longitudinal study investigating these questions in a cohort of 104 infants. Infants were tested on two simple attention tasks at 4 months of age and on EF tasks at 6 and 9 months of age. The results provided little evidence that basic attentional functions at 4 months formed precursors for emerging EF at 6 and 9 months. However, there was good evidence for stable individual differences in EF from 6 months of age. This suggests that EF emerges earlier than previously assumed. Future research into individual differences in the development of EF could benefit from starting as early as the middle of the first year of life.

Annette Karmiloff-Smith Women In Psychological Sciences (WIPS) Lecture 2017

Mind the Generation Gap! Uta Frith in conversation with Clare Press, Matthew Longo and Emily Jones.

Uta Frith, who looks back on a 50-year research career, will be in conversation with three young researchers, who all have recent experience of maternity/paternity leave. They will discuss questions about life and work, particularly how to manage gaps and transitions. The conversation will try to open up discussion about exactly how people of the older generation can share their knowledge and how personal experience can benefit others.

Date: Wednesday, 8 March 2017
Time: 16:00-17:00 (drinks reception to follow from 17:00)
Venue: Room B34, Birkbeck (Main Building), University of London, Malet Street, London WC1E7HX (entry from Torrington Square)

Drinks reception to be held at: Rayne Seminar Room, CBCD, Henry Wellcome Building (across Torrington Square from Main Building, entrance on footpath between Torrington Square and Woburn Square)

Uta Frith was born and educated in Germany and trained in clinical psychology at the Institute of Psychiatry. She is best known for her research on autism and dyslexia and is now Emeritus Professor of Cognitive Development at UCL-ICN. Since retiring in 2006, Uta has expanded her interests in science communication. She is a Twitter enthusiast and chairs the Royal Society’s Diversity Committee.

Clare Press studied at UCL before undertaking a fellowship at the Wellcome Trust Centre for Neuroimaging. Her first lectureship was at the University of Reading, and she is now a Senior Lecturer in the Department of Psychology at Birkbeck. She examines the mechanisms that underlie our ability to map between action and perception, as needed for action control and some social abilities. Clare also manages Research Methods teaching and UCAS Admissions within the department.

Matthew Longo studied at the University of California, Berkeley and the University of Chicago before moving to the UK in 2006. He was a postdoc at UCL-ICN before he joined the Department of Psychological Sciences at Birkbeck, where he is now Professor of Cognitive Neuroscience. Matt’s research focuses on the psychological and neural bases of body representation. He is the director of the master’s course in Cognitive Neuroscience and Neuropsychology and the head of the department’s Athena SWAN working group.

Emily Jones is a Lecturer at CBCD. She studies the mechanisms underlying symptom emergence in neurodevelopmental disorders such as Autism and ADHD. To do this, Emily uses neurocognitive and neurophysiological methodologies like eye tracking and EEG to assess brain development. She also coordinates the Eurosibs study, a prospective longitudinal study of infant siblings across 7 European countries and is part of the EU-AIMS project, which aims to develop new treatments for ASD.