Speaker: Dr. Pamela Davis-Kean
Title: Population, Neuroscience & Genetics: How do we model the complexity of human development?
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This talk will overview a project that is being designed at ISR to examine the transaction of brain, biology, and behavior. We are proposing a program of projects that will bring together scientists from a broad range of perspectives to examine how socio-economic disparities in contexts (neighborhood, family, schools) interact with neurocognitive and behavioral processes to shape trajectories of executive function growth in children over the school transition period. Currently, social scientists are examining the issue using laboratory experiments and survey research and looking at how parents create cognitive stimulating environments to promote cognitive growth and academic achievement (Davis-Kean, et al., 2010; Morrison, Bachman & Connor, 2005). Similar research is being conducted in the neurocognitive sciences where cognitively stimulating environments (home and school) are being linked to executive functioning skills and quicker processing skills (Farah, Noble, & Hurt, 2005). To date, these areas have been advancing relatively independently, with little collaboration between social scientists who have a very long history of studying disparities and the neuroscientists (including geneticists) who are just beginning to consider brain differences as influenced by the environment. In our view, we are at the leading edge of a major new thrust in developmental science, which seeks to integrate across formerly distinct disciplinary perspectives, to forge a grand synthesis aimed at fuller understanding of the nature and sources of psychological development.
What is a representative brain? Neuroscience meets population science.