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PhD studentship at Stirling: Identifying the unique impact of schooling on children’s neurocognitive development

Identifying the unique impact of schooling on children’s neurocognitive development

This studentship will examine effects of early schooling on children’s cognitive control and its related changes in the brain. Our recent work showed that, due to increased demands on sustained attention, one year of being in the first-grade leads to specific changes in children, namely improved cognitive control, and an increase in the activation of right posterior parietal cortex, a brain region important for sustained attention. This studentship aims to tackle the following research questions:

  1. To what extent do schooling-specific neurocognitive changes predict academic outcomes over time?
  2. Are there predictors of schooling-specific neurocognitive changes, stemming from individual characteristics to socioeconomic background of the child?
  3. Do late schoolers, due to being older when entering school, show larger schooling-specific neural changes compared to early schoolers?

The student will play a key role in designing and running the study. He/she will combine an experimental approach with longitudinal assessments of brain functions (using fNIRS), cognitive abilities, and academic performance in two groups of children similar in age but differing in year of school entrance (parents in Scotland can choose to defer school entry for children born in January and February). The successful candidate will compare these two groups of children, which requires intense periods of testing (May-August 2018, 2019, 2020) at the children’s homes using cognitive and neuro-imaging testing. He/she will regularly visit Prof Yee Lee Shing at Goethe University Frankfurt.

For details of this project with Dr Eva Rafetseder, Prof Yee Lee Shing, and Dr Sobanawartiny Wijeakumar at Stirling, go to https://www.findaphd.com/search/projectdetails.aspx?PJID=91879

The deadline for application is 13 December 2017