The aim of this career development plan is for the applicant to acquire the skills necessary to characterize changes in brain function subserving the acquisition of higher-order executive cognitive functions during late childhood and adolescence. This period is the time when higher-order cognitive abilities such as abstract thought, goal directed planning, and voluntary inhibitory control begin to achieve adult levels concurrently with significant reorganization of neural connectivity in neocortex. These higher level cognitive skills fail to develop normally in several major psychiatric disorders of presumed neurodevelopmental origin. These crucial cognitive and brain maturational processes during late childhood and adolescence are very poorly understood, and the field needs broadly trained developmental investigators to begin comprehensive and programmatic studies of this important epoch. In order to establish a research career dedicated to elucidating the neural substrates of normal and abnormal cognitive development, the applicant will obtain additional training in: 1) cognitive and other developmental processes pertinent to the time period of interest, 2) skills in designing and implementing a broader ranger of cognitive and imaging methodologies sensitive to developmental changes during this period, and 3) clinical aspects of neuropsychiatric disorders with a neurodevelopmental changes during this period, and 3) clinical aspects of neuropsychiatric disorders with a neurodevelopmental basis. She will also initiate a series of studies to examine patters of development in cognition and brain organization using tasks that probe spatial working memory, voluntary response suppression and attention shifting abilities both behaviorally and using fMRI. Studies at the end of the research program will begin to investigate abnormal development in autism and individuals at familial risk for schizophrenia. To the extent that the proposed research program can elucidate the developmental trajectories of pivotal executive functions, the proposed line of work can potentially provide crucial information needed for designing more effective programs for the early recognition, treatment, and preention of psychopathology.

National Institute of Health (NIH)
National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH)
Research Scientist Development Award - Research & Training (K01)
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Child Psychopathology and Treatment Review Committee (CPT)
Program Officer
Desmond, Nancy L
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University of Pittsburgh
Schools of Medicine
United States
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