Undergraduate Research & Scholarships

Jewelia Yao Humanities and Social Science

The Relationship Between Brain Anatomy and Working Memory in Childhood

The human brain is characterized by ridges, or gyri, and indentations, or sulci. Individual differences in sulci have been shown to be related to aspects of cognition, which is important for our everyday functioning. Despite these findings that a) sulci develop and b) individual differences in sulci are linked to cognition in adults, no study has yet examined the relationship between the development of sulci and the development of an essential cognitive ability known as working memory. Working memory is the ability to maintain and manipulate information. It develops over childhood and has important implications for language comprehension, arithmetic skills, and educational achievement. Maintenance of working memory demonstrates activation in a brain region known as the ventrolateral prefrontal cortex, whereas the manipulation aspect of working memory exhibits activation in a region known as the dorsolateral prefrontal cortex. In my research, I propose to look at sulcal depth in these areas and its relationship with working memory in order to understand how cognition develops in parallel with brain anatomy during childhood.

Message To Sponsor

To The Wishek Fund: I'd like to express my sincerest gratitude to the Wishek Fund for providing me with the resources to conduct my research this summer. This experience has been a fundamental building block both personally and professionally. Not only was I able to delve deeper into understanding working memory and the research process itself, but I was also able to reaffirm my desires to become a researcher and pursue graduate school. Additionally, this experience has taught me so much about how to overcome obstacles, as the emotional and mental challenges that it presented helped to build my abilities and greater confidence in myself. In sum, this project has expanded my knowledge and my skillset and has made me more sure of my ambitions and my own self.
Profile image of Jewelia Yao
Major: Psychology
Mentor: Kevin Weiner and Silvia Bunge
Sponsor: Wishek Fund
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