Research Projects

General Description of Our Research Program

The efforts of the Brainwaves Research Lab focus on two programs of research investigating the development of sensory processing (auditory and somatosensory) and cognitive abilities in children during the period of 5 years to 18 years of age utilizing electroencephalography (EEG) and event-related potentials (ERPs) methodologies as well as traditional behavioral measures obtained from a variety of neuropsychological assessments.

In our research on sensory processing abilities, we are examining sensory registration and sensory gating in children with and without sensory processing disorders. This work is a result of our interests in conducting treatment effectiveness studies in clinical populations served by occupational therapists and other applied health professionals. The purpose of the present effort is to better understand the experimental conditions that produce the most reliable electrophysiological measures of sensory registration and sensory gating of the auditory system in normal adults and children 4 to 10 years of age. With our refined Sensory Gating (P50) ERP paradigm we have shown that children with sensory processing disorders display deficiencies in their ability to gate repetitive sensory (auditory) information and are exploring the interrelationships of the ERP measures with behavioral manifestations of sensory processing deficits.

In our research on the cognitive development in children and adolescents, we are using a variety of ERP paradigms (e.g., ERN, CNV, Novelty-Oddball) to measure the changes in the functioning of the prefrontal cortex which are critical for the development of higher order cognitive abilities, specifically executive functions. An emphasis of this research is to understand more about the changes in brain function during adolescence and how those changes impact function in everyday activities. Current methodological efforts are focusing on the reliability and stability of the various components of ERP paradigms when recorded from children, adolescents, and young adults, and to determine if reliability improves when controlling for specific state and trait characteristics of the participants. A unique aspect of this work is our demonstration of the usefulness of multivariate statistical techniques as a means of understanding individual differences.

We have several active research projects underway in the Brainwaves Research Lab. Here is a brief description of each.


Reliability of Cognitive ERPs in Children and Adults

Summary Statement: Investigates the reliability and stability of the various components of event related potential (ERP) paradigms when recorded from children and young adults and determines if reliability improves when controlling for specific variance elements.

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Funded by: National Institute of Health for period of 4/01/05 to 3/31/07.


Sensory Gating Mediated by Attention

Summary Statement: Investigates the whether manipulations of attention levels during EEG/ERP sensory gating paradigms differentially affects adults and children and to determine the split-half and test-retest reliability measures of sensory gating in children and adults.

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Funded by: National Institute of Health (NIH) for the period of 9/01/06 to 8/31/08.


Validating Sensory Processing Disorders through Concomitant Neurophysiological Neuropsychological, Psychophysiological, and Neurobiological Measures

Summary Statement: Investigates the relationship of stress (cortisol levels) and genetic markers for alpha-7 receptors sites in EEG/ERP measures to sensory gating measures in children with and without sensory processing disorders.

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Funded by: Wallace Research Foundation for the period of 1/1/06 to 12/31/07.


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=271). 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: click here

Funded by: National Institute of Health (HHS-NIH) Center Med Rehabilitation Research (K01 HD01201-06) for the period of 8/30/98 to 6/30/04