The inaugural Professor Sally Andrews Lecture on Cognitive Psychology: Prof Frini Karayanidis (University of Newcastle)
School of Psychological Sciences, University of Newcastle
Cognitive control ability: An early warning signal?
Cognitive control processes support goal-directed behaviour and flexible adaptation in response to changing contexts. These processes are enabled by prefrontal cortical regions and are sensitive to genetic, biological and environmental impacts (e.g., age, physical and mental health conditions, substance use, lifestyle choices). Cognitive control ability varies across the developmental lifespan, and level of ability in early life is predictive of adaptive or maladaptive outcomes in adulthood. It has been suggested that cognitive control processes may be a sensitive early warning system of the need for intervention to prevent cascading effects of cognitive decline across multiple contexts and areas of functioning. However, there are currently no approaches to reliably assess cognitive control trajectories and identify patterns of deviation. In this talk, I argue that the task-switching paradigm may be a promising candidate as the “canary in the coalmine”. I briefly review our current understanding about the task-switching paradigm, including the underlying cognitive control processes, the link to prefrontal cortical function and the paradigm’s sensitivity to developmental trajectories, clinical conditions and lifestyle variations. I outline our current work with this paradigm in healthy ageing and briefly touch on challenges ahead.
Please join us online at https://uni-sydney.zoom.us/j/83525864994 on Friday 22nd October at 3pm.