Current Projects

Sounds and Stories

When you are talking to a friend in a coffee shop, how do you pay attention to what your friend is saying while ignoring all the other conversations happening around you? How does your brain detect irregularities in sounds and speech, even when you are not paying attention? This project focuses on the development of brain functions that support our abilities to attend to relevant sounds, ignore irrelevant sounds, and detect regularities in our soundscapes. Using electroencephalography (EEG), this project investigates how diverse environmental experiences contribute to auditory perception and attention in early childhood.

Brain Functions Supporting Cognitive Control in Childhood

In three independent longitudinal projects, our research group is examining the development of brain functions underlying cognitive control – foundational cognitive skills that support goal-directed behavior. These longitudinal EEG/ERP projects focus on the changes in the magnitude and timing of neural responses observed in cognitive control tasks in 4 to 8-year-old children from diverse socioeconomic backgrounds. These projects include collaborations with Dr. Jennie Grammer at UCLA, Dr. Amanda Hampton Wray at the University of Pittsburgh, and Dr. Esther Leerkes at the University of North Carolina Greensboro. Data collection for these longitudinal projects has been completed. 

Adult Cognition in Context 

The excellent temporal resolution of electroencephalography (EEG) allowed the discovery of various divergences in how and when neural responses are observed in cognitive control tasks in clinical adult populations compared to neurotypical adults. A comprehensive understanding of cognitive control functioning in neurotypical adults remains important for advancing our understanding of the causes and consequences of mental health disorders. This project investigates how contextual factors, in particular socioeconomic factors and language experiences, contribute to the functioning of brain systems supporting cognitive control in adulthood.