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PsychologyOur news, events & seminars

Executive Function Development: Making Sense of the Environment to Behave Adaptively Seminar

15:00 - 16:00
7 December 2016
University of Southampton, Highfield Campus, Building 44 (Shackleton), Room 3095

For more information regarding this seminar, please telephone Sue McNally on 02380 595150 or email .

Event details

Emerging executive function in childhood, one of the main predictors of life success, is goal-directed in nature. Yet children’s ability to identify goals (i.e., what should be done) has been under researched, often because of implicit assumptions that it is trivial even in early childhood. In contrast, I will present evidence for goal identification as a major force behind developing executive function. Both increasing attention to environmental cues and increased goal inferencing from these cues drive goal-identification improvement with age. This framework has important implications for assessing and supporting executive function in childhood.

Speaker information

Dr Nicolas Chevalier, University of Edinburgh. Dr Chevalier received his Ph.D. in Psychology in 2008 from the University of Provence (Aix-Marseille, France; now Aix-Marseille University). He then worked as a post-doctoral research associate at the University of Nebraska (Lincoln, NE, United States) from 2009 to 2011 and the University of Colorado (Boulder, CO, United States) from 2011 to 2013. Research Interests - While working on a project or assignment, one may need to prevent thinking of something else and ignore the temptation to check emails and facebook. Efficient control over thoughts, actions and emotions will help to stay on task and get it done. Unlike adults, children tend to be “all over the place”, not exerting cognitive control effectively. Yet, emerging cognitive control during childhood is one of the best predictors of academic achievement and later life outcomes such as health, income, or criminal records. His work uses behavioral indices, eye-tracking, event-related brain potentials (ERPs), and near-infrared spectroscopy (NIRS) to address how preschoolers and school-age children develop increasingly efficient cognitive control. He is especially interested in how children determine what they need to do and how to best implement control based on environmental information, available cognitive means and previous experience.

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