University Relations

photo of Apostolos GeorgopoulosDirector
Apostolos Georgopoulos, MD, PhD
Regents Professor,

photo of Jeanette GundelAssociate Director
Jeanette Gundel, PhD
Professor, Linguistics

Research Assistant Professor
Trenton Jerde, PhD Cognitive Science

Spring 2014 Colloquia

Thursdays, 4:00 - 5:30 pm, Elliott N119

April 24

Monica Luciana, Psychology

Adolescent Brain Development: Normative Trends and Impacts of Substance Use

Alcohol use in excessive quantities has deleterious effects on brain structure and behavior in adults and during periods of rapid neurodevelopment, such as the prenatal period. Whether similar outcomes characterize other developmental periods, such as adolescence, and in the context of less extensive use is unknown. Recent cross-sectional studies suggest that binge drinking as well as alcohol use disorders in adolescence are associated with disruptions in white matter microstructure and gray matter volumes.

Our laboratory has prospectively followed a cohort of typically developing adolescents from a baseline assessment, where no experience with alcohol was present, across several years, after which some individuals transitioned into regular use. Participants completed structural MRI scans and behavioral assessments. Alcohol initiators as compared to non-users demonstrate altered patterns of neurodevelopment, including greater-than-expected decreases in cortical thickness in the right middle frontal gyrus from baseline to follow-up as well as blunted development of white matter in the right hemisphere precentral gyrus, lingual gyrus, middle temporal gyrus, and anterior cingulate. Diffusion tensor imaging reveals a relative decrease over time in fractional anisotropy in striatal regions as well as tracts that interconnect frontal with posterior brain regions. These changes are accompanied by self- reported declines in behavioral control. Alcohol initiators do not differ from non-users at the baseline assessment. The groups are largely similar in their premorbid characteristics, although targeted examination of the ventral striatal region indicates that nucleus accumbens volumes at baseline are predictive of who goes on to use alcohol during mid-to-late adolescence. Self-reported increases in reward sensitivity are also a risk factor.

We conclude that subclinical alcohol use during mid-to-late adolescence is associated with deviations in neurodevelopment across several brain tissue classes. These deviations are distinct from what is observed for marijuana use, which we have also started to examine. Implications for continued development and behavior will be discussed.

Recommended readings:


Fall 2014 Course Announcements

Jürgen KonczakCPMS 5101 Introduction to Clinical Physiology and Movement Science
Jürgen Konczak
Mondays: 1:25 - 3:55 pm
Location TBA , 3 credits

Course Description

This 3-credit course is designed to give students an overview into the fields of clinical physiology and clinical movement science. It provides a basic understanding of clinical issues related to human motor function and physiological parameters of human performance. It presents the newest research methods to study human movement and physiological function and explains how these methods produce clinically relevant research findings. The course is designed to contrast normal development of human function throughout the lifespan and outlines relevant clinical issues of each life phase, such as childhood obesity or rehabilitation after stroke.

Faculty from Kinesiology, Mechanical Engineering, Neurology, Nursing, Otolaryngology, Physical Therapy, and Public Health will provide the latest insights into the following topics:

  • Research methodology in clinical movement science
  • Research methodology in clinical physiology
  • Typical sensorimotor development in childhood
  • Motor problems in pediatric populations
  • Pediatric clinical physiology
  • Aging of the skeletal-muscle system
  • Aging of heart, lung and vascular function
  • Aging of the motor system
  • Pediatric treatment of childhood obesity
  • Robotic rehabilitation
  • Neurological rehabilitation after stroke



Paul JohnsonIDSC 8711 Cognitive Science
Paul E. Johnson
Fridays 1 - 5 pm
Carlson School of Management 1-136, 4 credits

Course Description



Prerequisite: Business administration PhD student or instructor consent

We increasingly perform tasks using knowledge that we individually do not possess. Decisions and the solution to problems are as likely to arise from the interaction among people (and among people and artifacts), as they are to result from the capacity of a single individual. The use of various physical, social and intellectual resources to perform tasks has given us many benefits. It has also given us the ability to act without reflection (the philosopher A. N. Whitehead observed that civilization advances by extending the number of things we can do without thinking about them). An interesting consequence of reliance on the knowledge and thinking of others is that our mental models often become divorced from reality. When this happens individuals as well as organizations sometimes act counter to their best interests. Such actions reflect characteristics of the human mind and how it is (and is not) adapted to the demands of modern twentieth century life and work. In this course we examine research and theory on the nature of the mind and how it functions in the modern world.

Drawing on work in psychology, anthropology, philosophy and computer science we develop a framework for understanding the behavior of cognitive agents in various settings of work and daily life. We will be particularly interested in the role of consciousness (including intentionality and narrative thinking), the nature of representation (including the idea of self organizing systems) and the limits of cognitive capacity (e.g., bounded rationality) as explanations for behavior. Data from the study of research problems in the field settings (health care, manufacturing, financial markets) as well as the laboratory will be critiqued and evaluated. Alternative methodologies for investigating behavior will be explored.

Upon completion of the course students should be able to provide an informed critique of research as well as undertake the formulation of a research problem of modest scope using cognitive science theory and methodology. The course format will be lecture and discussion based on assigned readings from the research literature. Course requirements include a weekly synopsis of one assigned reading and a take-home final exam.




Pani KendeouEPSY 8114-003 Seminar - Cognition and Learning
Panayiota (Pani) Kendeou
Mondays 2:30 – 5:10 pm
Education Sciences, 3 credits

Conceptual Change: Research and Practice

Learning often involves the revision of prior knowledge at the level of systems, at the level of individual concepts, and of course at the level of individual beliefs. This type of learning is known as conceptual change. In this seminar, we will focus on the discussion of current research in the area of conceptual change learning with the aim to advance our understanding of the underlying cognitive processes involved in knowledge revision and their implications for pedagogy and assessment. Main topics include current theories of conceptual change learning, processes and mechanisms of change, conceptual change in different domains (e.g., science, math, physics), influences of learner characteristics (e.g., prior knowledge, epistemological beliefs, motivation, engagement), instructional approaches for conceptual change, and challenges in conceptual change research.

Graduate students are invited to register for the course, regardless of disciplinary background. For questions or more information, please contact Dr. Panayiota (Pani) Kendeou ( .



EPSY 8114: Seminar: Advanced Cognitive Psychology
Sashank Varma
Tuesdays 2:30 - 5:15 pm
Location TBA, 3 credits

Course Description

This course is an introduction to theories and behavioral data of cognitive psychology of greatest relevance to education. It is “advanced” in three senses. First, it emphasizes data, theories, and models. Second, it focuses on higher-level cognition. Third, it combines a conventional textbook with papers from the research literature. The topics covered will include: the cognitive revolution, working memory, executive function and cognitive control, long-term memory, learning and transfer, problem solving, expertise, word and sentence comprehension, discourse comprehension, mathematical thinking, reasoning, and cognitive architecture.

Graduate students interested in cognitive psychology are invited to register for the course, regardless of disciplinary background.

For questions or more information, please contact Dr. Sashank Varma (



Francis ShenLAW 6063 Law and Neuroscience
Francis Shen
Tuesdays 10:10 am - 12:10 pm
Mondale Hall N209, 2/3 credits

Course Description

What are adolescents, psychopaths and white-collar fraud artists thinking? Why does emotional trauma for victims of abuse last so long? Whey is eye-witness memory so poor? Do violent video games lead to violent children? How can you get into the heads of the judge and jury? Lawyer and courts, including the U.S. Supreme Court, are already integrating neuroscience research into their arguments and opinions on questions such as these. This class will introduce the exciting new field of "neurolaw" by covering issues such as neuroscience of criminal culpability, brain-based lie detection, cognitive enhancement, emotions, decision making, and much more. Along the way we'll discuss how the legal system can and should respond to new insights on topics as adolescent brain development, addiction, psychopathy, Alzheimer's, effects of combat on soldiers' brains, and concussions from sports injuries. (Note that all scientific material in class will be presented in an accessible manner, so no previous science background is required.)




Journal Club
Tuesday, April 29
11:45 - 12:45 am
Elliott S204

Sucharit Katyal"Mindfulness & Meditation" Sucharit Katyal

Updated April 23, 2014