Cognitive Development in Healthy and Impaired Populations

"I really enjoy being able to relate the tangible data (the MEG scans and brain scans) to the tasks performed in the experiment. It is really interesting to see how the MEG scan reflects different changes in activity that relate to different types of cognitive tasks." 


Supervising Faculty:

Beatriz Luna, PhD and Finnegan Calabro, PhD



Beatriz Luna, Ph.D.
Laboratory of Neurocognitive Development
Western Psychiatric Institute and Clinic, UPMC
Loeffler Building, Ste 100
121 Meyran Ave
Pittsburgh, PA 15213


Area of Research:  Cognitive development in healthy and impaired populations


Description of Research:

We have a series of projects investigating the neural basis of cognitive brain development from childhood through adolescence into adulthood, primarily in typically developing populations. We use neuropsychological tests including paper and pencil, computer, and eye movement cognitive tests to delineate improvements with age. We also perform fMRI (task and resting state), DTI, EEG, and PET studies to characterize the changes in brain function that accompany changes in behavior, and their associated neurophysiological mechanisms. The processes that we study include cognitive control (response inhibition, working memory, future planning), and reward mechanisms. Technical (programming, etc) and/or statistical backgrounds are a plus, though not required.


Duties of Students:

Students who work on these projects will assist in subject testing, analyses of data, and literature review. You will write a research paper or design a poster as a final project.


Additional Requirements:

  • Comfortable with children
  • All other departmental guidelines for Directed Research


Terms offered: fall, spring and summer


Number of Students: up to 5