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Researchers study child brain development

Rainbow-colored blocks and laughing preschoolers were fixtures in Willamette’s Cognitive Neuroscience Laboratory this summer. But while the children had fun interacting with researchers, they also were helping to provide important information about the impact of families on child development.

Psychology professor Courtney Stevens and students Juan Ramos ’15 and Samantha Martinez ’15 — in collaboration with the University of Oregon’s Brain Development Lab — were collecting brain recordings and other data for a project examining the effects of a family-based training program on preschoolers’ cognitive and brain development.

Stevens co-authored a paper, released last year in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, on research that showed at-risk preschool children had improved attention skills when their families went through the training program.

This summer, the researchers are expanding that study to look specifically at Spanish-English bilingual children coming from primarily Spanish-speaking families.

To read their previous report, go to Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.