The Network has established a collaboration with the National Research Council Institute of Medicines 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.
Working Group On Public Dissemination And Social Policy
The Network has, from its inception, had an interest in the dissemination of responsible scientific information to the public. All too often, science is oversimplified, misunderstood, or misapplied. In an effort to be a broker of reliable science, the Network has established a joint working group with several members of the National Research Council/Institute of Medicine Committee on Integrating the Science of Early Childhood Development. This committee recently published a report, From Neurons to Neighborhoods, which distills many years of research …
The dissemination of our growing knowledge of the importance of the first years of life on brain-behavioral development has recently been extended beyond academia to include the general public. Here the application of this knowledge base to the tasks of child rearing has been facilitated by the proliferation of a diversity of educational materials, including parenting and womens magazines, television and radio talk shows, and a range of popular books authored by respected authorities such as Brazelton, Leach, and Spock.
The positive consequences of this knowledge explosion include greater public awareness of the importance of the early years, and increased interested in integrated, family-centered support services.
The negative consequences include among others the frequent portrayal of this knowledge base in the media as greater than what it in fact is (e.g., despite the fact that we do not know nearly enough about the role of experience in brain development, there …
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.
EEG: An electroencephalogram is a record of the activity of large numbers of neurons within the brain region closest to electrodes placed on the surface of the scalp.
FRONTAL EEG ASYMMETRY
Previous EEG (electroencephalogram) studies of behaviorally inhibited children have revealed that these childrens brain activation differs from that of normal, non-inhibited children. Specifically, their right frontal lobes are significantly more active than their left frontal lobes. This study seeks to determine if the activity measured by these EEG studies originates in the frontal lobes, or in other structures involved in …
A pair of small, affiliated studies that emerged from the study on the timing of maternal separation were conducted at the Oregon Health and Science University These studies investigated the role played by early experience in determining later behaviors, by examining the modulation of genetic and social influences on behavior in Japanese macaques.
One relevant early life experience in Japanese macaques is a decrease in maternal attention due to mating season or the birth of a new sibling. Factors that could influence individual differences in behavioral reaction to this experience include temperament, biological disposition (behavioral inhibition, growth hormone responsiveness) and social or environmental factors (dominance rank, social support, infant abuse). In humans, socio-economic status (SES) determines access to resources and influences vulnerability to some illnesses. One study examined whether the same may hold true for dominance rank and Japanese macaques.
The study examined whether temperament predicts response to the birth …
The Research Network on Early Experience and Brain Development has developed a battery of 646 facial expression stimuli for use in its own and other studies of face and emotion recognition.
Images include the following expressions, displayed by a variety of models of various genders and races: fearful, happy, sad, angry, surprised, calm, neutral, disgusted.
We are in the process of getting validity ratings on these face stimuli. However, preliminary data indicate high agreement amongst children and adult raters (Tottenham, N., Borscheid, A., Ellertsen, K., Marcus, D.J., Nelson, C.A. (April, 2002). Categorization of Facial Expressions in Children and Adults: Establishing a Larger Stimulus Set. Poster presented at the Cognitive Neuroscience Society annual meeting, San Francisco). This site will be updated when more data are analyzed.
We are making these stimuli available to the public free of charge. We require registration and acceptance of our terms and conditions to use the …
A comparative approach to the study of early experience and development is ubiquitous throughout the research initiatives of this network. Of particular relevance to the goals of this initiative are selective rearing studies with animals (rats and monkeys) that parallel the conditions under which young children are raised.
An example of such an undertaking can be found in recent pilot work conducted with Rhesus monkeys by Dr. Judy Cameron (a core group member). Dr. Cameron has separated monkeys from their mothers at four different ages: one week, one month, three months, and six months (this last age is when separation would occur normally). The behavioral repertoire of animals separated at three and six months is normal.
However, animals separated from their mothers at one month show profound behavioral (particularly emotional) deficits. For example, these animals quickly seek out an adult to adopt them, and latch onto this adult. Once adopted, …
Research focusing on the developmental outcome of children who experienced pre- or perinatal brain insult has demonstrated that children who are asymptomatic during the newborn period nevertheless often show cognitive deficits later in life. Behavioral measures of memory and cognitive ability during the infancy period have failed to consistently identify this subpopulation of at-risk infants. We designed two experiments that each reflect operations of the medial temporal robe and reflect pre-explicit memory. In the current protocol, electrophysiological techniques were used to examine the neural processing underlying recognition memory during the first year of life. Infants of diabetic mothers and infants suffering from growth retardation were tested on visual recognition memory paradigms at 6 and 8 months of age. Results suggest that fetal neurologic insults do result in abnormal patterns of electrophysiologic response to familiar and novel stimuli during the first year. (Also see Poster #G09; Neurophysiologic Assessment of Auditory Recognition …
Over the past decade, much information has been disseminated about critical periods windows of plasticity, usually early in life, during which certain experiences must happen in order for certain abilities to develop. This concept has often been misapplied to suggest that only experiences early in life count, and that development and plasticity shut down after a certain point. This Network study has shown, however, that enriched experiences later in life can re-open windows of plasticity previously thought to be closed.
Earlier experiments have shown that young owls can effectively re-map their visual and auditory maps (including literally re-mapping the brain representations of these maps) when their visual input is manipulated by putting prisms over their eyes. These owls quickly learn the new relationships between auditory and visual input, and most adapt fully to the new relationship.
Adult owls, however, were largely unable to adapt to the shifted input. This …
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.
Electrophysiological Correlates Of The Recognition Of Objects, Faces, And Facial Expressions: An Erp Study
This study uses Event Related Potentials to study activity in certain areas of the brain suspected to play a role in recognizing faces and facial expressions.
ERPs represent electrical activity generated by the brain in response to a stimulus, such as a sound or image. Using a special cap (such as that worn by the baby in the image above our menu bar) with small electrodes that touch the scalp, researchers measure the electrical signals on the scalp generated by particular underlying areas of the brain.
For this project, Event Related Potentials are used to monitor brain activity in infant participants every two months from the ages of 4-months through 12-months. Two tests are done at each session. The first test consists of having infants watch pictures on a video monitor of their mothers face and a strangers face. For the second test, infants watch pictures of their favorite toy (which has been brought in from home and digitally captured for presentation) and a novel toy. This project aims to understand the underlying processes of memory as they are used in detecting a familiar and a novel stimulus. Because this study is longitudinal we are also interested in how these processes may change with development.
At the 6 and 8-month sessions a short behavioral test is also done in which infants looking time to two different stimuli is recorded. The infants are first familiarized to a …