Study examines how brain functioning changes as we age

RESEARCH FEATURE: A study at the Center for the Mind and Brain will observe how the brain activities of youths engaged in thinking tasks change as children age and could shed new light on thought-processing disorders.

"The goal of this research is to pinpoint the changes in brain function over childhood and adolescence that provide us with greater control over our thoughts and behavior," said Silvia Bunge, an assistant professor in psychology and the Center for Mind and Brain and who is the principal investigator for the study.

Functional magnetic resonance imaging, or fMRI, will examine the developmental changes in cognitive control in children and young adults from ages 8 to 25. Functional MRI allows scientists to see precisely which areas of the brain are at work as a subject performs different tasks.

The research could lead to advancements in the detection and treatment of common disorders that affect cognitive control, such as Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder, Obsessive Com-pulsive Disorder and Tourette Syndrome.

The project also has clear implications for education, Bunge said.

Discoveries about how cognitive abilities develop could lead to the introduction of new learning strategies in classrooms and the development of remediation programs targeting children with specific disorders.

The National Science Foundation is funding the project with a $450,000 grant over a three-year period.

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