Cognitive Event-Related Potentials and Brain Maturation

Summary Statement: The major goal of this project is to collect cognitive event-related potentials in children ages 7 to 18 years and young adults (N=276). A second aim is to relate the cognitive event-related potentials to performance on neuropsychological tests in participants across the age span 7 to 25 years. As a mentored grant, a third aim is to develop independent research skills in electroencephalogram and event-related potential data collection and analysis.

Full Abstract: This is a research study examining information processing and brain development. We are looking at the association between the improvement in cognitive functions and the change in brain activity (or growth of the brain) from childhood to young adulthood. The goal of this research is to better understand the underlying mechanisms for the tremendous increase in thinking skills that occurs from childhood to young adulthood. To date, over 235 children and youth have participated in this research and 35 adults.

Participants in this project perform problem solving tasks given in two testing sessions, each session lasts about 2 hours. The first session assesses various cognitive functions using paper and pencil tasks, and verbal activities. During the second session we record brain activity using standard electroencephalographic (EEG) techniques while the participant completes 4 computer tasks. During this session, a cap similar to a bathing cap with EEG sensors is placed on the participant's head. The activities are presented in a game format, and are interesting and enjoyable.

All activities will take place in a quiet room in the Human Development Lab at Colorado State University at a time that is convenient for the volunteer participant and family. As we are only interested in age-group performance, we do not report individual scores, and all participant information and results remain anonymous and confidential. Past participants report that this is an enjoyable and educational experience, one that they would volunteer for again. Each participant receives a picture of their brain activity, a T-shirt that says "I donated my brainwaves to science" and an 8x10 glossy photograph of the volunteer wearing the EEG cap.

SPONSOR OF PROJECT: National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD)

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