Each of us was once a perseverating baby. How did we go from that, from reaching over and over again to an old location for a hidden toy, to flexibly switching among our ever-growing number of multi-tasking options? In the Cognitive Development Center, we explore these issues through converging evidence from behavioral studies (including eye-tracking) with children and adults, and neural network models, which we use to investigate how specific neural mechanisms can give rise to executive functions and their development. In collaboration with colleagues, we also employ a variety of cognitive neuroscience methods, including fMRI, ERP, and neuropharmacological manipulation. Through this research program, we have developed a unified framework for understanding executive function and its development. Our framework focuses on the role of developing prefrontal cortical regions in maintaining abstract information such as goals. Many aspects of executive function (e.g., global vs. competitive inhibition) and developmental transitions (e.g., reactive-to-proactive and exogenous-to-endogenous shifts) can be understood within this framework. Our ongoing work tests competing predictions from our framework and others, and investigates environmental influences on executive function and its development.



My full list of publications is available via my Curriculum Vita. (Click here for a pdf version.)
Online papers

Postdoctoral - Massachusetts Institute of Technology (Brain and Cognitive Sciences)
PhD, MS - Carnegie Mellon University (Psychology) and the Center for the Neural Basis of Cognition (CNBC)
BA, BS - Stanford University ( Psychology and Symbolic Systems)

Return to Yuko Munakata's home page.