What mechanisms support the development of executive function? Answers to this question will inform how we measure and track executive functions at the behavioral and brain levels, and how we design interventions and training programs. This talk will focus on the role of neural network models in deconstructing components of executive function, such as inhibition. Such models, and empirical tests thereof, suggest that active maintenance mechanisms support the development of what appear to be inhibitory abilities. This framework has led to otherwise counterintuitive findings about apparently inhibitory deficits, including effective methods for helping children to overcome such deficits, and cognitive limitations and advantages associated with them.
Munakata Presentation Slides (PDF - 823 KB)
Dr. Yuko Munakata is a Professor in the Department of Psychology and Neuroscience at the University of Colorado, Boulder. She studies cognitive development, with a focus on the developmental changes that support increasing cognitive control over behavior. She uses primarily behavioral and computational neural network methods, as well as functional magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), electrophysiological, and pharmacological methods in collaboration with colleagues in a National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) Center for Determinants of Executive Function and Dysfunction. She received her Ph.D. in Psychology from Carnegie Mellon University in 1996. Her research has been funded by the NICHD, NIMH, and the National Science Foundation and recognized by the American Psychological Association’s Boyd McCandless Award.
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