Neural Underpinnings of Attention in Children with Neurofibromatosis Type 1

Sophia Salas, “Neural Underpinnings of Attention in Children with Neurofibromatosis Type 1”
Mentor: Bonita Klein-Tasman, Psychology

Electroencephalogram, or EEG, is a safe, noninvasive form of measuring the physiological differences associated with cognition. EEG directly measures neural activity through the summed electrical potential of many neurons that rapidly travel through the brain. More specifically, we will be measuring event-related potentials (ERPs), which are small voltages in the brain in response to specific stimuli or events. ERPs can be subcategorized into different waveforms, such as N2 and P3, which can be further analyzed for their amplitude and latency. Since EEG is a useful indicator of neural activity, researchers have aimed to use this measure to characterize various neurodevelopmental disorders, such as ADHD. Therefore, we are piloting such methodology to measure the neural underpinnings of attention functioning in children with NF1 using ERPs. Participants will range in ages from six- to ten-years-old from both with and without NF1. This will be accomplished through administering two experimental tasks that both measure attention: the Go-no-go task and Flanker. We will also evaluate differences between the two groups on behavioral measures. Since this is a pilot study, our current goal is to first test this process on the typically developing population and then proceed to include the NF1 population. Based on previous research with children with NF1, we expect to observe impaired impulse control and attention as well as reduced ERP correlates when compared to a control group. Specifically, we expect decreased and delayed N2 and P3 components. This information is useful in understanding the neurophysiological processes associated with the attention profile of those with NF1, which can be used to identify new methods of measuring treatment effectiveness.

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