In the Developmental Neuroscience Lab we study the neurophysiological underpinnings of normal development and developmental disorders, with a particular focus on the role of the human cerebellum in cognition and cognitive development.
Why the cerebellum and cognition? The cerebellum, traditionally considered a motor structure, is engaged during a variety of cognitive tasks in functional neuroimaging paradigms, which indicates that the cerebellum may have a role in higher-level cognitive functions. Supporting these findings, anatomical and functional connectivity studies show that the lateral hemispheres of the cerebellum participate in circuits with areas of the cerebral cortex that support cognitive performance. Evidence from clinical populations shows that patients with cerebellar damage can develop the Cerebellar Cognitive Affective Syndrome, which is associated with various cognitive and affective symptoms. Furthermore, cerebellar dysfunction has been implicated in several developmental disorders, including developmental dyslexia, autism spectrum disorders, and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder. Our work aims to clarify the mechanisms underlying the cerebellar contribution to cognitive tasks and the role of the cerebellum in normal development and developmental disorders.
To tackle these questions, we use multiple neuroscience methods: behavioral studies, functional magnetic resonance imaging, structural neuroimaging, and neuromodulation techniques. Our participants include healthy typically-developing individuals, those with developmental disorders (dyslexia, autism and attention deficit disorder), and patients with disease or damage involving the cerebellum.