Recent advances in technology have allowed scientists to image the working brain by means such as brain electrical activity mapping (EEG/ERP), functional brain imaging (fMRI), and other approaches (PET, MEG). Surprisingly, people with developmental disabilities and associated brain dysfunction are rarely studied with these technologies. This state of affairs is due in part to the fact that many individuals with disabilities are very hard to test. With its strong background in behavior analysis and shaping technology, our Center has initiated research to help to correct this problem.
The Center has a number of active programs in the areas of psychobiology, with emphases on behavioral and cognitive neuroscience. For example, the Center’s Developmental Cognitive Sciences Group makes extensive use of electrophysiological methods to study both typical and atypical neurological development. In addition, there is an ongoing effort to forge productive alliances between disciplines that do not usually work together. For example, one project has succeeded in merging the streams of behavior analysis, cognitive neuroscience, and psycholinguistics to study biobehavioral processes involved in the well-known N400 electrophysiological paradigm. As yet another example, techniques developed in behavioral research with humans have been adapted to develop useful animal models of conditions that lead to mental retardation and to relate behavioral deficits to the neurobiological substrate.