How do we develop control over our thoughts, emotions, and actions?
I seek to understand the role of social input in the development of executive functions, core cognitive processes that allow us to regulate impulses in order to achieve longer-term goals.
Humans are remarkable for their ability to self-regulate in order to achieve goals. Where does this ability come from? Children struggle to resist urges, stay on task, and delay gratification; but with development these skills dramatically improve. Decades of research have advanced knowledge on the neurocognitive processes that support these skills, termed ‘executive functions’. However, executive functions don’t develop in isolation; they develop in the real world, in a sociocultural context. In my research I use a range of methods and theoretical frameworks to explore how social input, such as language and group norms, influence the development of executive functions and related cognitive skills. The goal of this work is to gain new insights into the origins and nature of executive control, and the fundamental interplay between developing social and neurocognitive processes.
I am funded by an individual NIH NRSA Postdoctoral Fellowship from the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (sponsor: Yuko Munakata), and am conducting my research in the Department of Psychology and Neuroscience at the University of Colorado – Boulder. I completed my Ph.D. in developmental psychology at the Institute of Child Development in Minnesota, my B.A. in psychology at York University in Toronto, and also studied philosophy at the University of Toronto.