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Aaron Buss

Aaron BussAaron Buss
Associate Professor
Ph.D., University of Iowa (2013)

Phone: 865-974-3818

Keywords: executive function, cognitive development, cognitive neuroscience, computational neuroscience

Research Interests

My research aims to create an integrated understanding of the behavioral and neural dynamics of executive function over development.

Research statement

I study the development of executive function using a combination of behavioral, neural, and computational methods. The primary questions I address in my research center around how perception and action are integrated in a controlled, goal-directed fashion. Specifically, I use dynamic field theory, which is a class of dynamic systems models, to formally integrate behavioral and neural processes. The primary neuroimaging technique I use in my lab is Near-infrared Spectroscopy (NIRS) which allows for measuring functional neural activation in infancy and early childhood.

  • University of Iowa, Lewis Award in Experimental Psychology, 2013
  • Delta Center Conference Travel Award, 2011
  • Society for Research in Child Development Conference Travel Award, 2011
  • University of Iowa, J. R. Simon Early Scholarship Award, 2009
  • Cognitive Science Society Conference Travel Award, 2008
  • 2018    The neurocognitive dynamics of learning and executive function
    Agency: National Institutes of Health
    Type of Grant: Research grant
    Role: PI
    Period: 4/2018-3/2023
    Total Amount: $1,096,000

  • 2012    Integrating Perception and Action in a Neural Field Theory of Response Selection
    Agency: National Science Foundation
    Type of Grant: Research grant
    Role: Co-PI (Eliot Hazeltine, Tim Wifall, John Spencer)
    Period: 9/2012-5/2014
    Total Amount: $100,000

Peer-Reviewed Journal Articles

  • Buss, A. T. & Kerr-German, A. N. (2019). Dimensional attention as a mechanism of executive function development: Integrating flexibility, selectivity, and stability. Cognition, 192, 104003.
  • Buss, A. T., Ross-Sheehy, S., & Reynolds, G. (2018). Visual working memory in early development: A development cognitive neuroscience perspective. Journal of Neurophysiology, 120, 1472-1483.
  • Costello, M. C. & Buss, A. T. (2018). Age-related decline in visual working memory: Behavioral results simulated with a dynamic neural field model. Journal of Cognitive Neuroscience, 30(10), 1532-1548.
  • Buss, A. T. & Spencer, J. P. (2018). Changes in frontal and posterior cortical activity underlie the early emergence of executive function. Developmental Science, 21(4), e12602.
  • Defenderfer, J., Kerr-German, A., Hedrick, M., & Buss, A. T. (2017) Investigating the role of temporal lobe activation in speech perception accuracy with normal hearing adults: An event-related design. Neuropsychologia, 106, 31-41.
  • Buss, A. T. & Spencer, J. P. (2014). The emergent executive: A dynamic field theory of the development of executive function. Monographs of the Society for Research in Child Development, 79(2).
  • Buss, A. T., Wifall, T., Hazeltine, E., & Spencer, J. P. (2014). Integrating the behavioral and neural dynamics of response selection in a dual-task paradigm: A dynamic neural field model of Dux et al. (2009). Journal of Cognitive Neuroscience, 26, 334-351.
  • Buss, A. T., Fox, N., Boas, D. A., & Spencer, J. P. (2014). Probing the early development of visual working memory capacity with functional near-infrared spectroscopy. NeuroImage, 85, 314-325.


  • Buss, A. T. & Lowery, K. (in press). Inhibitory control and executive function. In J. B. Benson (Ed.), The Encyclopedia of Infant and Early Childhood Development (2nd Ed). Elsevier: Oxford.
  • Buss, A. T. (2017). Computational models of executive function development. In S. Wiebe and J. Karbach (Eds.), Frontiers in Developmental Science: Lifespan Development and Plasticity of Executive Function. Taylor & Francis: New York, NY, (pp. 124-144).
  • Buss, A. T., Wifall, T. & Hazeltine, E. (2016). The emergence of higher-level cognitive flexibility: Dynamic field theory and executive function. In J. P. Spencer and G. S. Schöner (Eds.), Dynamic Thinking—A Primer on Dynamic Field Theory. Oxford University Press: New York, NY, (pp. 327-352).


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