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MRI: Acquisition of a high-density electrophysiology laboratory for intercollegiate research and training in cognitive neuroscience  

This Major Research Instrumentation award permits Dr. Alan Hartley and four co-investigators to purchase high-resolution (256 channel, dense array) electroencephalography/event related potential (EEG/ERP) instrumention to be shared by faculty and students across three undergraduate consortium colleges (Scripps, Pitzer and Claremont). These will be used to investigate the spatial and temporal dimensions of brain activity associated with human cognition in infants, young adults, and older adults in typical and atypical (e.g., autistic) populations. The participating researchers are all active researchers in the study of cognition and cognitive neuroscience. Five collaborative research projects are proposed. Project 1 will explore brain activations associated with carrying out two tasks at the same time, conditions under which it can/cannot be done, and age differences in performance and activation in dual-task situations. Project 2 will examine the neural correlates of risk propensity across the lifespan. Adolescents have been noted to have increased risk seeking propensity under certain conditions, in comparison to young adults and older adults. These changes have been linked to uneven development of different brain regions. This project will examine patterns of activation under different conditions of "hot" and "cold" decision-making. Project 3 will investigate the neural mechanisms of body-directed attention. The experiments employ variations on established visual paradigms to demonstrate how the body contributes to bottom-up sensory and top-down motivational influences on attentional control. Source-localized high-density EEG will allow characterization of the timing, amplitude, and distribution of individual and interactive effects. This research can be extended to examining failures of attention in older adults in important real-world situations such as walking or driving. Project 4 will explore temporal dynamics of neural systems for effective dyadic interaction, and examine the relations of these deficits to measures of naturalistic social behavior outside of the laboratory, in autism and older adults. Simultaneous, synchronized EEG data is recorded in real time as two individuals engage in joint action tasks. The resulting spatiotemporal patterns will be analyzed for group and individual differences in social cognition in autism and in older adults. The findings will add insight to the neural mechanisms of joint action and joint attention, and their relationship to social cognition outside of the laboratory. Project 5 will investigate a frequency-based EEG measure of attention in infants. It proposes to use steady state visually evoked potentials (SSVEP) as a potential index of attentional allocation in infants. These measures have advantages over behavioral gaze data because they record changes in processing without verbal or overt motor responses and are less prone to artifacts. If this measure is validated, it can be used to investigate gender differences in attention to objects and their mental manipulation (e.g., mental rotation). This research and training program will implement a vertical integration from faculty research to advanced student research to student training to the classroom. Faculty already trained in neuroimaging techniques will gain ready access to modern instrumentation currently not available on site, enabling the continuation of this work as well as fostering new research programs and research collaborations within departments and across colleges. The instrumentation will draw a diverse array of undergraduate students into the use of electrophysiological imaging methods and into careers in cognitive neuroscience. Project Status


Funder National Science Foundation
Fiscal Year Funding $137,002.67
Current Award Period 2010-2013
Project Number 1039791
Principal Investigator Hartley, Alan
Received ARRA Funding? No
Strategic Plan Question Question 2: How Can I Understand What Is Happening? (Biology)
Subcategory Neural Systems
Strategic Plan Objective 2O. Not specific to Question 2 objectives
Federal or Private? Federal
Institution Scripps College
State/Country California
Web Link 1 MRI: Acquisition of a high-density electrophysiology laboratory for intercollegiate research and training in cognitive neuroscience (External web link)
Web Link 2 MRI: Acquisition of a high-density electrophysiology laboratory for intercollegiate research and training in cognitive neuroscience (External web link)
Web Link 3 No URL available.
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