Speaker: Marie Arsalidou, Ph.D., Assistant Professor of Psychology, National Research University, Moscow, Adjunct Professor, York University, Toronto, Canada
75 minute talk with a 15 minute Q&A session. Lunch will be included.
Cognitive capacity is linked to academic achievement and professional success. Psychologists have been interested in identifying the best methods of evaluating cognitive competence. Although intelligence tests remain fairly popular in psychology, neuroscientists are moving towards finding improved methods for assessing core cognitive constructs such as working memory and executive attention. I consider mental attention as the maturational component of working memory. Tasks that assess mental attentional capacity have at least six levels of difficulty and an invariant task goal across difficulty levels, rendering these tasks suitable for use with individuals with variable performance. In this presentation I will discuss three related lines of work: (a) behavioural assessments of mental attentional capacity showing cross cultural data from Toronto and Moscow, (b) functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) data in adults that examine brain responses to mental attention tasks, and (c) fMRI meta-analyses that examine overarching brain patterns across studies that used working memory tasks in children and adults and how these compare to other cognitive functions such as mathematical problem solving. Implications to cognitive science and education will be considered.