Summary: Developmental Cognitive Neuroscience

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  • 1 Introduction & Methods of Experimental Infant Research

  • 1.1 Introduction

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  • Definition of Developmental Cognitive Neuroscience

    Interdisciplinary scientific field, which is:
    • concerned with development of cognitive functions
    • concerned with development of their neural basis
    • directed at understanding the relation between neural and cognitive phenomena
  • General difficulties with research in children:

    • Infants are indifferent to instructions
    • have a short attention span
    • won't sit still
    • are delicate (gevoelig) subjects
  • Approval of (medical) Ethics Committee

    They weight whether what I ask to a child is imbalanced with what the results would give back and cannot be distressing or medically harming
  • 1.2 Structural Brain Development

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  • What do we know about early structural brain development?

    Not that much, because we only had animal studies, autopsy studies and Neuroimaging studies
  • fMRI -> rare in infants because:

    • Infants should be aware
    • infants should be motionless
    • presentation of auditory/language stimuli is problematic due to the noise in the scanner
  • Differences EEG data between infants and adults

    • Responses are slower in infants
    • ERP morphology can be different and can happen at different times
    • babies can have components adults don't
    • frequency range are shifted
      • these slowly move towards the adults' as they grow up
  • 1.3 Behavioural Experiments

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  • Marker tasks - for who is it used? when is it used?

    • infants of different ages
    • in various contexts to get insight into interrelations between developmental changes in observable behaviour and brain structures
  • Marker taks - why is it used?

    • Investigate neurodevelopmental models
    • to determine whether behavioural observations are consistent with expectations derived from our current understanding of neurological development
  • The same behaviour might be mediated by different neurological structures at different stages of development -> since we must infer what babies are thinking so we use to methods such as

    • Infant's expectations
      • visual fixation method
      • anticipatory looking
    • Infant in control
      • preferential looking paradigm
      • head turn paradigm
      • high amplitude sucking
    • existing preferences / knowledge vs. Examining learning
  • Habituation paradigm - new stimulus is presented

    New stimulus:
    • Dis-habituation: infant perceives a difference
    • No dis-habituation: no change in reaction: infant perceives no difference

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