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Upcoming Talks by the Developmental Cognitive Neuroscience Faculty Candidates

The psychology department is excited to welcome four excellent candidates for the open developmental cognitive neuroscience faculty position. The upcoming dates and times of these candidates’ talks on their work is as follows:

Yang Qu (Stanford University)

1/29/18 (Monday) at 3:30-5:00pm, Straub 145 (reception to follow)
Job Talk: Neural Mechanisms of Adolescent Risk Taking: The Role of Parents and Cultural Stereotypes

Abstract: Adolescence is a time of dramatic changes in brain, behavioral, and psychological functioning. A key change during this phase of development is a rise in risk taking, such as reckless driving, substance use, and unprotected sexual activity. This rise has caused serious social and public health problems. Although several theoretical models propose that adolescent brain development underlies the heightened risk taking, prior research has mainly relied on cross-sectional designs and is unable to shed light on individual differences in trajectories of risk taking. To address this issue, I will present longitudinal fMRI studies to examine the role of sociocultural contexts (e.g., parental depression and cultural stereotypes about adolescence) in neural mechanisms of adolescent risk taking. Building upon this line of research, I further developed an experimental intervention aimed at changing children’s stereotypes about teens to promote constructive behavior during adolescence.

1/30/18 (Tuesday) at 3:00-4:00pm, Straub 253
Chalk Talk: Stereotypes about Adolescence: Cultural Differences and Consequences 

Abstract: Adolescence is often viewed as a time of rebellion and irresponsibility in the United States. Although not often based in reality, such negative stereotypes may serve as self-fulfilling prophecies for the youth holding them, shaping how they navigate the teen years. I will present a series of studies to demonstrate that 1) teens are viewed differently in the United States vs. China with variation within Chinese regions (i.e., Hong Kong vs. Mainland China), and 2) such views about teens underlie divergent adolescent trajectories, such as in academic engagement and risk-taking behavior. Taken as a whole, the findings suggest that how children navigate the adolescent years is driven in part by social constructions of this phase of development.


Moriah Thomason (Wayne State University)

2/01/18 (Thursday) at 3:00 PM in Gerlinger Lounge
Job Talk:  Developmental brain connectomics and human cognitive development

Abstract: While we possess rather detailed understanding of select micro- and macroscopic processes of normal human brain development, we know far less about how brain changes relate to behavioral changes over the course of life from the prenatal period to early adulthood. This lack of understanding is especially pronounced in very early years of human life, years where change is most rapid, and vulnerability heightened. The primary objective of our research is to characterize fundamental properties of human brain macroscale neural system development, and examine how early experiences, beginning in utero, influence life-long learning and neurological health. We are testing models in which early psychosocial stress and concomitant toxin exposure influence development of neural systems, particularly those that support the establishment of cognitive control and regulatory processes in childhood. Rigorous evaluation of emergent self-regulatory processes and their neurological and biobehavioral bases has potential to inform educational strategies and lead to biologically-informed behavioral interventions for those with enhanced risk.

Chalk Talk: The developing brain in context
Abstract: One of the most critical issues facing developmental neuroscience is the need to deconstruct means by which environmental factors shape the developing brain. It has long been appreciated that the conditions in which we live, and the lifestyles we maintain, influence our well-being. With advances in imaging, biomaterial assays, and genetics, it is increasingly plausible to measure and evaluate complex and interactive influences of the environment on brain, biology, and behavior. Through juxtaposing data types and examining varied time-points in development, we widen discourse around developmental vulnerability and create an opportunity for thinking beyond one exposure, condition, or system to extrapolate cross-cutting mechanisms at multiple levels of analyses. However, with these technological and conceptual advances, challenges arise. In particular, we face need for effective integration across data types, as well as innovation in computational and statistical design strategies.


Kathryn Mills (University of Oregon), TBD

2/05/18 (Monday) and 2/06/18 (Tuesday) 


Deanna Greene (Washington University, St. Louis), TBD

2/08/18 (Thursday) and 2/09/18 (Friday)