The goals of the proposed research are three:(1) to test children with brain damage localized to frontal cortex on tests (a) which have been linked specifically to frontal cortex function through neuroanatomical and behavioral studies with infant and adult monkeys and (b) on which we know the normal developmental progression in children. Important aspects of this work will be to look for converging evidence from diverse tests all linked to the same subregion of frontal cortex, and to attempt to dissociate performance on these tests from performance on tests linked to other neural circuits. The goal is to develop non-invasive tests capable of detecting frontal cortex damage in infants and young children. Presently such damage often goes undetected for many years because of the lack of such tests. (2) to investigate the relationship of dopamine levels to performance on these tasks, and to begin to investigate the hypothesis that the fundamental maturational change which underlies the emergence of cognitive abilities dependent on frontal cortex during infancy is increasing levels of frontal cortex dopamine. To do this, children with early-treated PKU, who have no known structural brain damage but who are vulnerable to reduced levels of dopamine will be tested. Because their general cognitive functioning is good, if deficits are found they are likely to be selective. If they are selectively impaired on tests of frontal cortex function, this will be the first demonstration in humans of a cognitive deficit on frontal cortex tasks from dopamine depletion alone. Because L-dopa and the dopamine precursor, tyrosine, can be taken orally, there is an excellent chance that if deficits are found, therapeutic interventions will be possible to alleviate any impairments. (3) to better understand the abilities required for success on tasks that depend on frontal cortex function. Hypotheses will be considered that suggest that memory for space, and/or time, or for relational information in general is dissociable from memory for other information and dependent upon frontal cortex function.

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Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health & Human Development (NICHD)
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Human Development and Aging Subcommittee 3 (HUD)
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Eunice Kennedy Shriver Center Mtl Retardatn
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Diamond, Adele (2014) Want to Optimize Executive Functions and Academic Outcomes?: Simple, Just Nourish the Human Spirit. Minn Symp Child Psychol Ser 37:205-232
Diamond, Adele (2013) Executive functions. Annu Rev Psychol 64:135-68
Diamond, Adele (2012) Activities and Programs That Improve Children's Executive Functions. Curr Dir Psychol Sci 21:335-341
Diamond, Adele (2011) Biological and social influences on cognitive control processes dependent on prefrontal cortex. Prog Brain Res 189:319-39
Davidson, Matthew C; Amso, Dima; Anderson, Loren Cruess et al. (2006) Development of cognitive control and executive functions from 4 to 13 years: evidence from manipulations of memory, inhibition, and task switching. Neuropsychologia 44:2037-78
Diamond, Adele; Kirkham, Natasha (2005) Not quite as grown-up as we like to think: parallels between cognition in childhood and adulthood. Psychol Sci 16:291-7
Diamond, Adele; Carlson, Stephanie M; Beck, Danielle M (2005) Preschool children's performance in task switching on the dimensional change card sort task: separating the dimensions aids the ability to switch. Dev Neuropsychol 28:689-729
Prevor, Meredith B; Diamond, Adele (2005) Color-object interference in young children: A Stroop effect in children 3(1/2)-6(1/2) years old. Cogn Dev 20:256-278
Diamond, Adele; Briand, Lisa; Fossella, John et al. (2004) Genetic and neurochemical modulation of prefrontal cognitive functions in children. Am J Psychiatry 161:125-32
Diamond, Adele; Lee, Eun Young; Hayden, Michael (2003) Early success in using the relation between stimuli and rewards to deduce an abstract rule: perceived physical connection is key. Dev Psychol 39:825-47

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