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Psychology in the News

Buss Receives $1.1 NIH Grant

Aaron Buss, assistant professor, received a five-year, $1.1 million NIH R01 grant for his project, “The neurocognitive dynamics of learning and executive function.” This is the second time in 25 years an assistant professor in the Department of Psychology has received an R01 NIH grant.

Executive function refers to the collection of processes which control and regulate cognitive functioning to achieve flexible or goal-directed behavior. Executive function shows a sharp development during early childhood, especially between 2-5 years of life. Traditionally, executive function development during early childhood has been measured with tasks, which require children to make decisions about objects based on some visual feature, such as color or shape.

This project will examine how learning labels for visual features changes performance and patterns of neural activation in tasks that measure development of executive function in early childhood. Specifically, the proposed experiments will examine whether associating labels with visual features enhances children's ability to attend to those features, and how this learning process may change patterns of activation in brain areas associated with executive function.

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