The Developing Mind and Brain: Developmental Cognitive Neuroscience

PSY 170-B-01
Spring 2003

Time and Location
Thursdays, 3:50-6:20 PM, in room 237 of the Sociology/Psychology building.
Course Materials
There is no primary text for this course. However, we will read several chapters from two books. These are:
  1. C.A. Nelson & M. Luciana (editors). (2001). Handbook of Developmental Cognitive Neuroscience. Cambridge, Massachusetts: MIT Press.
  2. M.H. Johnson. (1997). Developmental Cognitive Neuroscience. Oxford, United Kingdom: Blackwell Publishers.
I have placed these two books on three-hour reserve at the Perkins library. Although Developmental Cognitive Neuroscience by Mark Johnson is on reserve, I highly recommend that you purchase this book. Other readings will be assigned for each class session. Many of them can be downloaded from the online version of this syllabus, located at You can download other readings via the library’s electronic reserves system.
Course Director
Dr. Kevin Pelphrey
Brain Imaging and Analysis Center, Duke University
Bell Building, room 256A
email: phone: 681-9346
Office Hours
I will hold office hours Thursdays from 1:00-3:00 PM and by appointment.

Course Information

This course offers an in-depth review of developmental cognitive neuroscience. We will consider questions such as: What is the nature of developmental change? What are the brain mechanisms underlying cognitive, perceptual, social, and emotional development during infancy and childhood? What changes in brain development underlie disorders such as autism and Williams syndrome? We will also evaluate implications of findings from developmental cognitive neuroscience for broader scientific issues including nature vs. nurture, critical periods in development, and the modularity of mental functions. An integral part of the course will be careful consideration of the major methods of developmental cognitive neuroscience including functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI), recordings of evoked response potentials (ERPs), and behavioral marker tasks. We will devote particular attention to the unique challenges of applying these methods to the study of children.

Class sessions will usually consist of a short lecture period followed by a student led group presentation and discussion of the week’s readings. In addition, we will visit different labs on campus to learn more about the methods and issues of developmental cognitive neuroscience.

You will be responsible for each week’s assigned readings. The class will revolve around discussion of these readings. To facilitate discussion, you should prepare a brief (no more than one typed page) reaction paper concerning each week’s readings. For these papers, consider writing down three questions that arose for you while reading the week’s material. You should send your reaction paper to me via electronic mail () at least two hours before each class session. Student groups will be arranged, and each group will be responsible for co-leading one or more class discussions. Groups may reserve topics. In addition to your weekly reaction papers, a major research proposal will be due on the last day of class. A first draft/outline of this research proposal will be due in mid-semester. You will give a final presentation regarding your proposal. I will provide more details about my expectations for your proposals later.

Your course grade will be based on the following four factors: (1) class attendance, participation, and weekly writing assignments (25%); (2) group presentations (25%); (3) research proposal and final presentation (35%); (4) one time-limited take home midterm exam (15%).

Course Outline

1/9 Topic: Introductions and overview of course


(1)    S. J. Webb et al. (2001). Developmental Neuropsychology, 19(2), pp. 147-171.

A. Principles

1/16 Topic: Perspectives on developmental change


(1)    M. H. Johnson. (1997). Developmental Cognitive Neuroscience, pp. 1-22.

(2)    J. L. Elman et al. (1998). Rethinking Innateness: A Connectionist Perspective on Development, pp. 1-46.

(3)    G. Gottlieb. Developmental Neuropsychology, 19(1), pp. 1-9.

1/23 Topic: Modularity of mental functions: regional specialization and lateralization


(1)    S. J. Paterson et al. (1999). Science, 286, pp. 2355-2358.

(2)    M. H. Johnson. (1997). Developmental Cognitive Neuroscience, pp. 164-171.

(3)    J. D. Cohen & F. Tong. (2001). Science, 293, pp. 2405-2406.

(4)    P. E. Downing et al. (2001). Science, 293, pp. 2470-2473.

(5)    N. Kanwisher. (2000). Nature Neuroscience, 3, pp. 759-763.

(6)    I. Gauthier et al. (1999). Nature Neuroscience, 2, pp. 568-573.

1/30 Topic: Developmental plasticity and critical periods


(1)     J. T. Bruer. (1997). Educational Researcher, 26(8), pp. 4-16.

(2)     C. A. Nelson. (2000). Developmental Science, 3(2), pp 115-136.

(3)     R. LeGrand et al. (2001). Nature, 410, p. 890.

(4)     O. Pascalis et al. (2002). Science, 296, pp. 1321-1323.

(5)     H. J. Neville & D. Bavelier. (1998)Current Opinion in Neurobiology, 8(2), pp. 254-258.

(6)     H. J. Neville et al. (1998). Proceeding of the National Academy of Science, 95(3), pp. 922-929.

(7)     B. A. Roeder et al. (1999). Nature, 400, pp. 162-166.

B. Methods

2/6* Topic: Electrophysiological methods


(1)    M. J. Taylor & T. Baldeweg. (2002). Developmental Science, 5(3), pp. 318-334.

(2)    R. Paetau. (2002). Developmental Science, 5(3), pp. 361-371.

(3)    C. A. Nelson & C. S. Monk. (2001). Handbook of Developmental Cognitive Neuroscience, pp. 125-135.

* Visit to the lab to observe ERP recordings.

2/13 Topic: Pediatric Neuroimaging I


(1)    D. N. Kennedy et al. (2002). Developmental Science, 5(3), pp. 267-278.

(2)    A. M. Ulug. (2002). Developmental Science, 5(3), pp. 286-292.

(3)    B. J. Casey et al. (2001). Handbook of Developmental Cognitive Neuroscience, pp. 137-147.

(4)    S. Y. Bookheimer. (2000). Mental Retardation and Developmental Disabilities Research Reviews, 6(3), pp. 161-165.

2/20* Topic: Pediatric neuroimaging II


(1)    E. S. Spelke. (2002). Developmental Science, 5(3), pp. 392-396.

(2)    B. J. Casey et al. (2002). Developmental Science, 5(3), pp. 301-309.

(3)    J. Meek. (2002). Developmental Science, 5(3), pp. 371-380.

(4)    Baird et al. (2002). Neuroimage, 16, pp. 1120-1126.

* Visit to the lab to observe fMRI scan and the simulator scanner

* First exam distributed

2/27* Topic: Behavioral marker tasks and connectionist models of development


(1)    M. H. Johnson. (1997). Developmental Cognitive Neuroscience, pp. 172-195.

(2)    Y. Munakata & J. M. Stedron. (2001). Handbook of Developmental Cognitive Neuroscience, pp. 159-171.

(3)    Y. Munakata. (1998). Developmental Science, 1, pp. 161-184.

(4)    W. H. Overman & J. Bachevalier. (2001). Handbook of Developmental Cognitive Neuroscience, pp. 109-123.

* First exam due

C. Domains of development

3/6 Topic: Face processing


(1)    M. H. Johnson. (1997). Developmental Cognitive Neuroscience, pp. 98-125.

(2)    M. DeHaan. (2001). Handbook of Developmental Cognitive Neuroscience, pp. 381-399.

(3)    C. A. Nelson. (2001). Infant and Child Development, 10, pp. 3-18.

(4)    N. Tzourio-Mazoyer et al. (2002). Neuroimage, 15, pp. 454-461.

3/20* Topic: Language


(1)    M. H. Johnson (1997). Developmental Cognitive Neuroscience, pp. 137-151.

(2)    S. K. Holland et al. (2001). Neuroimage, 14, pp. 837-843.

(3)    J. F. Werker & A. Vouloumanos. (2001). Handbook of Developmental Cognitive Neuroscience, pp. 269-280.

(4)    B. L. Schlaggar et al. (2002). Science, 296, pp. 1476-1479.

(5)    D. Bavelier et al. (1998). Neuron, 21, pp. 275-278.

* Paper draft/outline due

3/27 Topic: Memory


(1)    M. H. Johnson (1997). Developmental Cognitive Neuroscience, pp. 126-136.

(2)    C. A. Nelson et al. (2000). Developmental Psychology, 36, pp. 109-116.

(3)    C. A. Nelson. (1995). Developmental Psychology, 35, pp. 723-738.

(4)    L. J. Carver et al. (2000). Developmental Science, 3(2), 234-246.

4/3 Topic: Attention and executive processes


(1)    M. H. Johnson (1997). Developmental Cognitive Neuroscience, pp. 68-97.

(2)    J. E. Richards. (2001). Handbook of Developmental Cognitive Neuroscience, pp. 321-337.

(3)    B. Luna et al. (2001). NeuroImage, 13(5), pp. 786-793.

(4)    S. Durston et al. (2002). Developmental Science, 5(4), pp. F9-F16.

D. Neurodevelopmental disorders

4/10 Topic: Autism spectrum disorders


(1)    S. Ozonoff. (2001). Handbook of Developmental Cognitive Neuroscience, pp. 537-549.

(2)    R. Schultz et al. (2000). Archives of General Psychiatry, 57, pp. 331-340.

(3)    F. Castelli et al. (2002). Brain, 125, pp. 1839-1849.

(4)    G. Dawson et al. (2002)Child Development, 73, pp. 700-717.

4/17* Topic: Williams syndrome


(1)     U. Bellugi et al. (1992). Developmental Behavioral Neuroscience: The Minnesota Symposium on Child Psychology, Vol. 24, pp. 201-232.

(2)     U. Bellugi et al. (1999). NeuroReport, 10, pp. 1653-1657.

(3)     U. Bellugi et al. (1999). Trends in Neurosciences, 22(5), pp. 197-207.

(4)     S. Grice et al. (2001). Brain Imaging, 12, pp. 2697-2700.

* Final paper due

* Second exam distributed

* Final class session: Individual presentations of research proposals during the exam period and second exams are due.

Note. The readings are subject to change to reflect the flow of the class and possible new relevant findings in the field.