Higher Cognition in Adolescents


Higher cognition - the set of thinking skills people use to manipulate information and ideas in ways that lead to problem solving and new insights - is a critical foundation for individuals and our country to be competitive. During the teen years, the brain undergoes big changes; it won't look or function like an adult brain until well into the 20s. It is a period of tremendous change and tremendous potential.

The highly successful Workshop on Higher Cognition in Adolescents and Young Adults: Social, Behavioral, and Biological Influences on Learning was held September 28-30, 2008. The event enjoyed excellent attendance and widely perceived synergy and success in bringing together scholars from multiple disciplines and perspectives. It brought together 19 preeminent researchers representing the fields of neuroscience, economics, cognitive psychology, developmental psychology, social psychology, education, human development, and measurement and psychometrics to address a critically understudied area in life course learning - higher order cognition. The Workshop focused leading scientists on key problems that are ripe for groundbreaking discoveries and fostered the translation of research on the basic science of higher order cognition to solve pressing problems, especially the development of mathematical knowledge and reasoning skills essential for competitiveness in the 21st century.

In her book "The Adolescent Brain: Learning, Reasoning and Decision Making," Valerie Reyna, Cornell professor of Human Development, encapsulates the cutting edge research and emerging themes that grew out of the workshop. The book highlights recent neuroscience discoveries about how the brain develops and their implications for real-world problems and how we teach young people and prepare them to make healthy life choices.

The Workshop on Higher Cognition in Adolescents and Young Adults was supported by the National Science Foundation under Award # 0840111. Any opinions, findings and conclusions or recommendations expressed on this website are those of the authors(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Science Foundation (NSF).

Valerie Reyna

Laboratory for Rational Decision Making