Plasticity of task switching in childhood

In a rapidly changing world, switching between different tasks is often required to adjust behavior to changing circumstances and to achieve long-term goals. As children grow up, they face an increasing number of situations that require flexible switching between tasks, such as shifting mental gears from one lesson to the next or finding alternative ways to solve a problem. However, switching to a different task comes at a cost: children are slower and make more errors than adults under high-switch task conditions, presumably reflecting the protracted development of cognitive control processes and their underlying neural circuitry. In an ongoing study with 8- to 11-year-olds we examine the mechanisms that allow children to improve their task-switching performance during practice and the antecedents of individual differences in these improvements.

This project is part of priority program SPP 1772 "Mutitasking" of the German Research Foundation.

How do children acquire new skills?

In adults, cognitive control processes play a critical role in scaffolding new learning. But how are these late maturing processes involved in the acquisition of new skills in childhood? And how do control processes interact with sensorimotor systems in the course of learning? We have started addressing these questions by examining age differences in motor sequence learning between children and adults.

Check out our pre-registered methods and hypotheses.

Curiosity-based learning in children and adolescents

Curiosity, the desire to acquire new information, is thought to enhance learning and memory. Does curiosity influence the learning of new information differently in children and adolescents? How does it contribute to understanding and long-term retention of novel concepts? What are effective teacher strategies for promoting curiosity in ways that facilitate students’ learning? We are examining those questions in a series of studies. 

Find out more about our first results here.