The ability to control our cognitive processes is critical to achieving most tasks. Even when we look around the busy visual scene we need to use attention – a particular type of control mechanism – to bias the bits of the scene that are most relevant to the task at hand. Failure of these control mechanisms results in disorganised behaviour, reduces the efficiency of our cognitive processes, and impairs learning. This research programme explores these top-down control mechanisms in the human brain, using non-invasive neuroscience techniques with real-time resolution (electroencephalographyn (EEG) and magnetoencephalography (MEG)). We are particularly interested in how these mechanisms develop in childhood, both in typically and atypically developing children. Indeed, these control biases are implicated in a wide variety of developmental disorders, and yet the mechanisms that underpin them remain poorly understood.
In summary, the key goals of this programme are to: i) explore the neural dynamics of the functional connections that underpin top-down control in childhood; ii) examine how these networks differ between children, depending upon the child’s WM capacity, degree of inattention, and genetic background; iii) develop and test the efficacy of cognitive training programmes for enhancing these control processes; and iv) explore the brain mechanisms via which these interventions are effective.
Astle, D. E., Barnes, J. J., Baker, K., Colclough, G. L., & Woolrich, M. W. (2015). Cognitive training enhances intrinsic brain connectivity in childhood. The Journal of Neuroscience, 35(16), 6277-6283
Astle, D. E., Luckhoo, H., Woolrich, M., Kuo, B. C., Nobre, A. C., & Scerif, G. (2015). The neural dynamics of fronto-parietal networks in childhood revealed using magnetoencephalography. Cerebral Cortex, 25(10), 3868-3876.
Barnes, J. J., Woolrich, M. W., Baker, K., Colclough, G. L., & Astle, D. E.(2016). Electrophysiological measures of resting state functional connectivity and their relationship with working memory capacity in childhood. Developmental science, 19(1), 19-31.
Kuo, B. C., Nobre, A. C., Scerif, G., & Astle, D. E. (2016). Top–Down Activation of Spatiotopic Sensory Codes in Perceptual and Working Memory Search. Journal of cognitive neuroscience.