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Developmental and Cognitive Neuroscience

Researchers in the Yerkes Division of Developmental and Cognitive Neuroscience (DCN) examine the neurobiology of social and emotional behavior, and cognition across the life span, providing nonhuman primate models for various neuropsychiatric disorders. These include developmental disorders such as stress and anxiety, depression, schizophrenia, autism spectrum disorders, ADHD and obesity. The faculty use state-of-the-art technology (behavior, cognition, genetics, transient inactivation and neuroimaging, including PET) to manipulate neurobiology and capture resulting changes in complex social, emotional and cognitive behavior. Division researchers carry out studies at both of the Center’s locations – the Main Center on Emory’s campus and the Field Station in Lawrenceville.

The recent development and implementation of new standardized testing has allowed researchers to more fully examine behavioral effects of interventions in species-typical social environments, to increase the ad-lib testing of a number of cognitive modalities and to monitor dietary intakes of socially housed monkeys using automated testing kiosks.

In addition to improving understanding of basic biological mechanisms regulating social and cognitive behavior, results from Division researchers are also being used to improve the welfare of nonhuman primates by enhancing colony management and increasing breeding efficiency, which augments the availability of nonhuman primates for research.

Division chief Jocelyne Bachevalier, PhD, studies the functional specialization of the medial temporal lobe structures and their interactions with the prefrontal cortex in primates and the maturation of these cognitive functions during the life span.

Core scientists for the Division are Kim Wallen, PhD, and Mar Sanchez, PhD. The Division represents a unique compilation of core and affiliate scientists who are experts in neuroendocrinology, developmental neuroscience, cognitive neuroscience and primate social organization, and who serve as intellectual resources for other scientists within Yerkes, as well as regional, national and international collaborators.  Scientists within the Division play a key role not only in research quality but also in the mentoring of college students and early career scientists.

Division Researchers