Human attentional capacity is severely limited. Visual performance is enhanced in familiar environments because long-term memory (LTM) can be used to guide visual attention to the most relevant information in the environment. Humans repeatedly encounter familiar environments, and LTM-guided attention allows for more efficient use of cognitive resources. While this process has proved to be a key part of healthy cognitive function, supported by the parietal cortex, cerebellum, striatum, and thalamus in adults, almost nothing is known about how LTM-guided attention develops in children. Furthermore, we know very little about how variation in the environment can affect development of LTM-guided attention. Poverty is associated with delays in cognitive development and impairments in academic performance. The proposed studies aim to provide deeper understanding of the environmental factors that contribute to this disruption in development with a specific interest in LTM-guided attention as a possible underlying mechanism of disparities in cognitive development among children raised in low SES environments. Study 1 of this proposal aims to characterize the developmental pattern of LTM-guided attention in children from a range of SES backgrounds (Aim 1). Study 2 will examine the relationship between lack of cognitive stimulation and environmental complexity, often associated with low SES environments, and development of LTM-guided attention using well-established observational methods of the home environment and of school quality (Aim 2). Study 3 will investigate age- related neural changes in the brain network that supports LTM-guided attention and neural differences related to SES and environmental complexity (Aim 3). The sample for the Study 1 will include 120 typically developing children ages 5-16 years from a range of SES backgrounds. The sample for Study 2 will include 120 children aged 5-6 years, a period of rapid development in attentional control, recruited to ensure substantial variation in family income. Study 2 will involve intensive observation of the home environment, parent interviews, and child cognitive tasks. Study 3 will involve a longitudinal follow-up of participants in Study 1 to undergo structural and functional MRI scanning to gain understanding of the structural and functional associations with LTM-guided attention across development and different SES levels. The results of these studies will provide insight into the cognitive and neural development of LTM-guided attention, a key component of healthy cognitive function. Furthermore, it will contribute to the field's understanding of the factors associated with atypical cognitive and neural development in children raised in poverty. This award will provide the candidate, who has a strong background in cognitive neuroscience in adults, with training in developmental methods and developmental cognitive neuroscience to facilitate her transition to an independent research career.

Public Health Relevance

Intact coordination between long-term memory and attention is essential for normal cognitive functioning. Development of this coordination in children is understudied and almost nothing known about the environmental factors that contribute to its development. The proposed studies investigate the behavioral and neural development of long-term memory-guided attention from childhood to adolescence and the association of early life cognitive deprivation with this development; study findings have the potential to inform interventions to improve cognitive and academic outcomes for children raised in poverty.

National Institute of Health (NIH)
Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health & Human Development (NICHD)
Postdoctoral Individual National Research Service Award (F32)
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Special Emphasis Panel (ZRG1)
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Miller, Brett
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University of Washington
Schools of Arts and Sciences
United States
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Jenness, Jessica L; Rosen, Maya L; Sambrook, Kelly A et al. (2018) Violence exposure and neural systems underlying working memory for emotional stimuli in youth. Dev Psychopathol 30:1517-1528
Rosen, Maya L; Sheridan, Margaret A; Sambrook, Kelly A et al. (2018) Socioeconomic disparities in academic achievement: A multi-modal investigation of neural mechanisms in children and adolescents. Neuroimage 173:298-310
Rosen, Maya L; Stern, Chantal E; Devaney, Kathryn J et al. (2018) Cortical and Subcortical Contributions to Long-Term Memory-Guided Visuospatial Attention. Cereb Cortex 28:2935-2947
Rosen, Maya L; Sheridan, Margaret A; Sambrook, Kelly A et al. (2018) The Role of Visual Association Cortex in Associative Memory Formation across Development. J Cogn Neurosci 30:365-380
Rosen, Maya L; Sheridan, Margaret A; Sambrook, Kelly A et al. (2018) Salience network response to changes in emotional expressions of others is heightened during early adolescence: relevance for social functioning. Dev Sci 21:e12571