The majority of the Network’s research is conducted by Network members. We do not consider unsolicited proposals.
In an effort to learn more about the relation between brain, experience and behavior, the Network conducts collaborative inter-disciplinary research in a number of areas. Some of our projects focus on developing new methods for studying brain development. Other projects examine the roles played by specific parts of the brain in social and emotional development. And still other projects examine the effects of intervention on the brain development of individuals who have had experiences of neglect or deprivation. A few samples of our projects are listed below. Publications of Network research can be found here.
- New Methods for Studying Brain-Behavior Relations Part of the challenge of studying the effects of experience on the brain is the paucity of methods for examining the development of particular brain structures. These research projects focus on the development of methods that will allow us to look at how brain structures thought to be involved in particular aspects of behavioral development change with time and experience.
- Face Recognition Study The ability to recognize other faces and emotional expressions is a significant component of social cognition. This comparative study examines how particular areas of the brain may be involved in the development of this ability.
- Development of a Computerized Orbito-Prefrontal Task Certain tasks are known to “tap into” certain parts of the brain. This study examines the performance of children of different ages, and adults, on tasks known to rely on the orbito-prefrontal cortex (a part of the brain thought to play a role in emotion regulation and memory).
- Social Modulation of Songbird Learning The way that songbirds learn to sing may be a good model of the way humans learn language. One key feature of songbird learning is that it has a strong social component – that is, songbirds learn to sing much better by interacting with a live “tutor” than by listening to taped birdsong. This study examines the parts of the brain that are involved in this learning process.
- Neuroimaging Studies of Previously Institutionalized Infants Adopted in the US Although much media attention has focused on the abnormal behavioral development of children adopted from institutional orphanages, to date no one has examined how brain structure or function correlates with these abnormal behaviors. This study attempts to examine, using fMRI, the relation between brain structural and functional development and behavioral outcomes in children adopted from institutional orphanages.
- Bucharest Early Intervention Project This project examines the effects of intervention (in this case, foster care) on children who have been raised in orphanages.
- Frontal EEG Asymmetry Children (and some non-human primates) who are anxious or who are provoked by highly emotional stimuli show distinctive lateralization of EEG activity in the frontal cortex (that is, there appears to be greater activity on one side of the frontal cortex than the other). This study seeks to determine the brain structures that contribute to this distinctive EEG pattern.
- Electrophysiological Correlates of the Recognition of Objects, Faces, and Facial Expression: An ERP Study As stated above, the ability to recognize faces and facial expressions of emotion are critical for the establishment and maintenance of proper social skills during the entire lifespan. This study seeks to examine the development of the neural bases of these abilties using ERP, or Event Related Potentials.
- Working Group on Public Dissemination and Social Policy The Network has established a collaboration with the National Research Council Institute of Medicine’s Committee on Integrating the Science of Early Childhood Development. Together, the two organizations will explore various ways in which they may be able to provide specific audiences (e.g., policy makers, practitioners, educators) with responsible, accurate scientific information needed to make effective decisions about the lives of children.