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Invited Speakers 

Release Time:2014-05-14  Author:  Click Rate

     Prof. Marc H. Bornstein
        Editor, Parenting: Science and Practice 

        Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development                            
        Neuroscience, Parenting, and Culture

Human caregiving has evolutionary bases and is constituted of many highly conserved actions.  Infant cries capture our attention, and we cannot resist reacting to them. when we engage infants, we unconsciously, automatically, and thoroughgoingly change our speech – in prosody, lexicon, syntax, pragmatics, and content – and do so knowing full well babies cannot understand what we say. Behavioral and cultural study reveal some universal forms of parenting that guide formulating testable hypotheses about autonomic and central nervous system substrates of parenting.  In this talk, I first discuss parenting and a general orientation toward this evolutionarily significant and individually important activity in terms of its nature, structure, and goals. Next, I review behavioral and cross-cultural research designed to uncover commonly expressed – perhaps universal -- approaches to parenting infants and young children.  I then turn to describe an experimental neuroscience of parenting in studies of autonomic nervous system reactivity (in vagal tone and thermoregulation) and central nervous system function (using TMS, EEG/ERP, and fMRI). Because the intersection of parenting and neuroscience is still a rather new discipline, I forecast some frontiers of this budding field before reaching some general conclusions.  I hope that my talk will have value and meaning for experimentalists to understand process; for developmentalists to understand process through time; and for clinicians, to understand process through time to improve life and well-being in children, parents, and families. 

    Prof. Matthias Kliegel  
      Department of Psychology, University of Geneva ,Switzerland

     Prospective Memory Development across the Lifespan

A fundamental aspect of goal-directed, intentional behavior entails the ability to plan and then to remember executing future activities, such as remembering to pass a message from school to parents, to take medication in time, or to resume cooking after being interrupted by a phone call. The interplay of cognitive abilities that constitute the process of “remembering to remember” is referred to as prospective memory (Kliegel, McDaniel & Einstein, 2008). Prospective memory is an essential ability to meet everyday life challenges across the lifespan, constitutes a key element of developing autonomy and independence and is especially important in old age with increasing health-related prospective memory demands. Therefore, understanding mechanisms underlying the rise and fall of prospective memory across the lifespan has become an important effort in applied developmental research. The present talk will review conceptual and empirical advances from our lab in understanding age differences and associated developmental mechanisms across the lifespan. In a first part, recent data delineating the role of memory and executive control in prospective memory development in children and older adults will be discussed. In a second part, the talk will focus on a pattern called 'the age- prospective memory paradox'. The paradox is that adult aging results in reliably poorer performance on laboratory-based tasks of prospective memory but substantially improved performance on prospective memory tasks carried out in real life settings. In fact, meta-analytical evidence suggests that older adults outperform younger adults in prospective memory tasks carried out in everyday life. Various mechanisms have been proposed to explain these apparently conflicting results. The talk will discuss available and novel evidence which addresses some of those possible mechanisms. Finally, the implications of both lines of research for models of memory development in general will be considered.

    Prof. Amina Abubakar 
      Centre for Geographic Medicine Research, KEMRI/Wellcome Trust Research Programme, Kenya
      Department of Cross-Cultural Psychology, Tilburg University, Netherlands
      Department of Child and Adolescent Studies, Utrecht University, Netherlands. 
      Stimulating psychological development for children growing up in the context of HIV in East Africa

Exposure to infectious diseases is a major threat to optimal psychological functioning among children growing up in sub-Saharan Africa (sSA), a region of world that bears a disproportionate amount of the global disease burden. For instance, 90% of HIV positive children in the world live in the sSA, most of who were vertically infected either prenatally or in the early postnatal period.  With the introduction of High Active Antiretroviral Therapy, HIV infected children are living into their adolescence and adulthood. However, HIV infection leads to developmental impairments and poor mental health outcomes. This high disease burden and the co-occurring adverse effects on functioning and quality of life, threatens the well-being of not only infected individuals but also of already vulnerable households and communities. For translational behavioural and developmental research the question is:  How best can we stimulate development in these at-risk groups so as to improve their development outcomes and quality of life? 

My presentation will set out to critically evaluate current trends in translational behavioural research aimed at stimulating psychological development among HIV positive children in E. Africa.  I will discuss evidence from approaches to intervention that show promise at ameliorating the adverse effects of HIV. I will urge that for early intervention research to have impact there is a need for sophisticated study designs with multidisciplinary approaches. Only such designs allow the disentanglement of the associations between medical risk, psychosocial risk and childhood outcomes. The approach I will advocate allows for the identification of the most useful points of intervention, which in turn allows for the allocation of scarce resource to carrying out interventions that will have the most impact. Recent data from HIV infected children and adolescents will be used to exemplify the points raised.  

    Prof. Hirokazu Yoshikawa
      Steinhardt School of Culture, Education and Human Development,New York University
      The U.N. Sustainable Development Solutions Network
      Proposing and Implementing a Post-2015 Global Early Childhood Development Goal with Quality at Scale

In 2014, the post-2015 Sustainable Development Goals will be finalized.  These are the global development goals that will inform the 2015-2030 period in societal advancement among all United Nations member countries.  This presentation will focus on early childhood development as an important focus for post-2015 global development.  In the 2000-2015 Millennium Development Goals, early childhood development was represented only through goals related to infant and maternal mortality. Since 2000, an explosion of developmental, neuroscience, and economic research has established the importance of a more holistic view of early childhood, in which young children, beyond a right to survival, have a right to thrive across domains of physical, cognitive, language, and social and emotional development.  This lecture will present efforts of the U.N. Sustainable Development Network and other global organizations toward a global early childhood development goal and indicators, including the developmental rationale.  Then exemplars from countries around the world will be presented of evidence-based strategies to implement quality early childhood programs and policies at scale with positive impacts on young children's health, learning and behavior.  

   Prof. Maria-Lucia Seidl-de-Moura
     Department of Psychology, University of the State of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
     Parenting and Developmental Trajectories in Brazilian Contexts

Brazil is the largest South American country, with a population of 190,732,694 inhabitants living in 8,514,877 km2, with very distinct regions. It is an example of the population of the “Majority World”. Considering the importance of studying parenting in different cultural contexts under-represented in the literature, this presentation aims at offering and discussing evidence from studies studies conducted in several Brazilian contexts, using different methodologies. They have focused on: Mothers’ Socialization goals, Beliefs about practices, “Narrative envelope” or speech towards their babies, and ideas about their children (17 to 22 months old); Children’s development - Self-recognition and self-regulation in toddlers. Their results indicate the dynamic trajectories of development of related autonomy, which are modulated according to varied levels of urbanization, diverse predominant cultural influences, and educational levels.

      Prof.Patricia J. Bauer
      Asa Griggs Candler Professor of Psychology,
Emory University, Atlanta, Georgia, USA
      Autobiographical memory: A complementary processes account of its development

Autobiographical memories are an important source of evidence for continuity of self over time. They also serve functions of social connectivity and direction for future behavior. Adults experience a relative paucity of autobiographical memories of events from the first 3 to 4 years of life, with a seemingly gradual increase in the number of memories until approximately age 7 years, after which an adult distribution has been assumed. Historically, accounts of this so-called infantile amnesia or childhood amnesia have emphasized either changes in remembering (i.e., late development of autobiographical memory) or to forgetting (i.e., later inaccessibility of early memories), but not both. As a result, traditional explanations of childhood amnesia have difficulty accounting for the shape of the distribution of autobiographical memories across the lifespan. In this presentation, Bauer articulates a complementary processes account that explicitly acknowledges roles for both remembering and forgetting processes. The account recognizes the early development of the ability to form memories of personally relevant past events as well as accelerated forgetting in childhood relative to adulthood. The adult distribution of memories is achieved as the memory traces that are formed feature more and more autobiographical elements, and as neural, cognitive, and specifically mnemonic processes become increasingly efficient and effective, resulting in reduction in the rate of forgetting. The perspective brings order to a vast array of findings from the adult and developmental literatures. 

   Prof. Kang Lee
     Dr. Eric Jackman Institute of Child Study, University of Toronto
     From Early Own-Race  Preference  to  Implicit Racial Biases in Infancy and Early Childhood

Faces are one of the earliest and most frequently encountered stimuli in early childhood. Faces contain a rich set of important social information such as identity, gender, age, and race. Regarding race, most children tend to have more extensive exposure to faces of their own race than those from other races. What are the perceptual and social consequences of such asymmetry in children’s experience with own- and other-race faces? In this talk, I will present findings from a series of studies conducted by our international research team over the last decade. These studies involved newborns, infants, toddlers, and preschoolers in North America, Asia, and Europe. I will use these findings to illustrate that early differential experiences with own- versus other-race faces have profound impacts on children’s reactions towards own- and other-race individuals not only in terms of their ability to recognize faces of different races, but also their implicit racial biases against other-race faces. I will discuss the recent findings in the framework of a new Perceptual-Social Hypothesis.

   Prof. Robert Serpell
     University of Zambia

  Assessing and promoting communicative competence in a multilingual society:language and literacy development in Zambian children 

Communicative competence early in life opens the doors to socially adaptive developmental pathways, and is one of the most powerful predictors of educational achievement. In a modern society, literacy affords essential opportunities for citizens to participate in the economy and to access their civic rights. In Zambia, as elsewhere, most children acquire their initial literacy in the context of institutionalised public basic schooling.  Cultural, historical, social and economic factors constrain the design and implementation of an appropriate public educational policy for a multilingual society, which includes specifying the linguistic medium and script for initial literacy instruction. The majority of children in Zambia enter the early grades of formal schooling from a low-literacy home background, with oral competence in one or more indigenous Bantu language speech varieties. But the language of power in Zambian society is English, an exogenous language imported through evangelisation and colonisation, and appropriated by the post-colonial state as a resource for access to global knowledge and international trade. Thus a priority outcome of the public educational system is defined as literacy in English.

Assessing the communicative competence of an individual child can serve various educational functions in this context. Drawing on the findings of some recent and ongoing studies, I will propose wider implications for the assessment of language and literacy development in multilingual societies. The current state of psychometric technology for assessing oral and literate competencies in a multilingual society prohibits meaningful generalisation from individual performance scores to national or regional profiles of communicative competence. However, culturally sensitive assessment can serve as a valuable educational resource for identifying strengths and needs of an individual within a differentiated profile of competencies, for monitoring development within an individual's own trajectory, and for tracking the impact of supportive interventions on an individual's progressive mastery of specified target skills.