Tag Archives: nathan

Reprinted from Human Ecology Magazine, Spring 2016


Nathan Spreng, Assistant Professor in Human Development

In the Department of Human Development, fMRI (functional magnetic resonance imaging) informs Nathan Spreng’s studies of large-scale brain network dynamics and their role in cognition.

A Rebecca Q. and James C. Morgan Sesquicentennial Faculty Fellow, Spreng is curious about how volunteer test subjects in his Laboratory of Brain and Cognition conceive of the future and how they navigate the social world. Then there’s the hypothesized link between thinking about the past and imagining the future. “These different cognitive tasks activate similar brain regions,” Spreng
explains. “But it’s actually the other regions they talk to that help determine whether we’re thinking about the past or the future.”

It’s not only when the brain is doing something—performing cognitive tasks—that’s interesting to Spreng. Neuroscientists also study brain activity while people are simply resting in the scanner. But do our brains ever truly “rest”?

Not according to Spreng: “Signaling is always going on up there. Understanding how different brain regions hum along together (or are connected functionally) while people are simply resting can tell us a lot about how their brains work during cognitive tasks, and might eventually help us predict how resilient they will be to aging or brain disease.”

Spreng believes there’s even more in the resting-state fMRI data than previously imagined. In collaboration with Peter Doerschuk, professor of biomedical engineering, Spreng is developing a new method for analyzing resting-state activity. Doerschuk, also a Harvard-educated medical doctor, excels at developing algorithms for high-performance software systems.

In published reports of their progress so far, Spreng and Doerschuk say they’re finding ways to add important new details to the map of the resting brain— details like causality and direction of information flow between regions. Cause
and signaling direction are important considerations, Spreng notes, “when characterizing exactly how that network operates, and how information flows through the system, and how it might be involved in cognitive functions.”

The Cornell collaborators say their new statistical method shows promise in tracking both causation and direction of neural signals, showing us that the resting brain is anything but.

urieTND50 years later, recalling a founder of Head Start                                                                          A half century ago, Cornell developmental psychologist Urie Bronfenbrenner gave Congressional testimony that eventually led to the creation of the Head Start program.
Language-loss study reveals early signs of AAlzheimersWord_465x170lzheimer's disease                                               Loss of early childhood language skills, rather than those skills attained later in life, might be a predictor for Alzheimer's disease, according to a new Cornell study.

Ceci-TND70x70Stephen Ceci elected to National Academy of Education                                             Stephen Ceci, Cornell’s Helen L. Carr Professor of Developmental Psychology, has been elected to the National Academy of Education for his outstanding scholarship on education.

Chancel Award Metal18 Cornellians win SUNY Chancellor's Awards for Excellence                                    Eighteen students, faculty and staff in Cornell's contract colleges have won State University of New York (SUNY) Chancellor's Awards for Excellence for 2015.
Chinese_flag_(Beijing)_-_IMG_1104Lehman Fund makes 10 awards for China Study                                                                           Fourteen Cornell scholars received 2015 awards from the Jeffrey S. Lehman Fund for Scholarly Exchange with China. 
older people dancingPrevailing over pain                                                                                                                               Human Ecology's Translational Research Institute for Pain in Later Life, received a $1.95 million grant from National Institute on Aging.
Anthony BurrowAnthony Burrow among faculty saluted by OADI
Cornell’s Office of Academic Diversity Initiatives held its second annual awards, named after George Washington Fields and 9 other Cornellian trailblazers.

Students in the News

Anna Zhu Smart choice:  Award-winning app connects patients and hospitals
Department of Human Development graduate, Anna Zhu '14, developed an app to help patients find the hospital that best matches their health needs.
great minds 3.400HD Students present their research at 30th CURB forum
HD students were among the 120 undergraduates who presented their research at Duffield Hall as part of the annual event hosted by the Cornell Undergraduate Research Board (CURB)

 More Stories

Why Americans are obsessed with telling their own stories
Focus on protecting elderly from fraud and fleecing
A five-step guide to not being stupid
How courts should hear from children
The myth about women in science
> How children develop the idea of free will

 New Resources

Urie mag_cover_200x258
Urie: The scientist who remade the field of human development                                                                     Fifty years after the launch of Head Start, Urie Bronfenbrenner-one of the architects of the federal program for underserved families-is remembered as a giant in his field. Former students, research partners, and Cornell faculty members share their thoughts on the late Bronfenbrenner's legacy as a scholar, mentor, researcher, and champion for youth and families. Also in this issue: A tour through 150 Years of Big Red fashion; gerontologist Karl Pillemer's latest book, sharing elder wisdom on love and marriage; long-running, legendary courses in the College of Human Ecology; alumni and campus updates and special sesquicentennial content.
> The Memory Factory