CURRENT RESEARCH INITIATIVES

If you are a parent or participant that would like to be a part of this research, we would love to hear from you!! There is no commitment, even if you want to just stop by and see what we are doing. We would love to have you! My personal email is vrainey@uwf.edu and my office phone number is (850) 474-2359.

All of this is non-invasive and most children find it to be a fun science experience! We offer science kits and/or certificates with your child's picture in the EEG cap for participating (like below). We also love to give our participants a fun hands-on experience for helping us out by letting them be the "co-experimenter" when they are done. Beyond the scope of this research, giving children this fun STEM experience is really important to our mission in the Cognitive Development Lab. 

Executive Function Development

Using behavioral, survey, and electroencephalography (EEG) methodology, data is being collected to examine connections between executive functions (EFs: cognitive flexibility, inhibition, working memory) and factors that may affect the development of these functions. EFs are foundational skills that help us to control interference and learn in the classroom. Due to the plasticity of the brain (i.e., the ability of our brain to adapt to environmental change by modifying its neural connectivity) and fluidity of executive functions, evidence has been found that these areas can be enhanced through optimal environmental experiences (e.g., cognitive training or "brain training", bilingualism, translating).

Past Research Lines

Executive function measures are known to recruit frontocingulate brain regions, which make the measurement of electroencephalography (EEG) data particularly useful. In collaboration with several other universities in Chicago and Arizona, data has been collected investigating how bilingualism, and the management of two language systems, affects executive function development. This data has also been examined from a whole-child perspective, factoring social-cognitive factors (e.g., anxiety levels) into the equation. This data is no longer being collected. However, analyses continue to be performed on this data. Students projects may also be possible with the survey portion of this data.

Current Research Lines

More current lines of research are examining the development of specific executive functions (i.e., different types of inhibitory control) in children with ADHD. We are ultimately trying to figure out ways to help children with this diagnosis, particularly as an alternative to use of medication. Our first step in this process is to understand how intensive cognitive training with a professional cognitive trainer can help these children improve their inhibitory control skills. The cognitive trainers focus on improving executive function skills, which are foundational skills that help children to learn in the classroom. 

We investigate these skills through non-invasive scalp sensors that are simply recording the brain waves we naturally produce (see pictures below). There is no electricity and it does not produce any sensations. It is similar to wearing a swim cap with a little bit of hair gel. We also use behavioral tests and survey measures to understand a full picture of how children are functioning.