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Scientific Lectures //

Cognitive Control Development across Adolescence

Dr. med. Eva Mennigen, M.D., Visiting Scholar, the Mind Research Network

Presented: March 28, 2017 

ABSTRACT:  Cognitive control enables us to flexibly adapt to environmental challenges and changing task demands in an appropriate and adjusted way. There are two major conflict phenomena that have been experimentally manipulated and explored in the context of cognitive control: interference and task switching. Interference refers to an incompatibility on the stimulus-response level according to a specific cue. Task switching demands cognitive control because the previously active but now irrelevant task has to be suppressed whereas the currently active task set has to be engaged. Both types of conflict are reflected by increased reaction times and error rates. It is assumed that cognitive control matures throughout adolescence. Elucidating the underlying neural mechanisms of cognitive control maturation is essential to better understand, identify, and treat diseases associated with impairments of cognitive control, like substance use disorder, obsessive-compulsive disorder, and other mental disorders. In order to do so, it is pivotal to investigate and understand cognitive control profoundly not only in adults but also in adolescents since adolescence is the period where many psychiatric disorders set in and the brain undergoes substantial changes.

BIO: Dr. Mennigen graduated from medical school (Medizinische Fakultaet Carl Gustav Carus, Dresden, Germany) in 2010. After that she proceeded to work as a grad student in the Section of Systems Neuroscience, Department of Psychiatry, University Hospital Dresden and she defended her doctoral thesis in February 2015 ('Exploring cognitive control in adolescents in a combined interference switching task). In parallel to her work in research, she started her residency in psychiatry in 2012 at the Department of Psychiatry, University Hospital Dresden. After graduating, she received a research scholarship which enabled her to join Vince Calhoun's lab in November 2015 where she works now as a visiting scholar. 

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