Developmental Cognitive Neuropsychology Research Unit

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The Developmental Cognitive Neuropsychology (DeCog) Research Unit is an internationally recognised developmental neuropsychology research facility.

Its research activity focuses on investigating neuropsychological outcomes and monitoring neuropsychological status in children with developmental or acquired disorders. Knowledge gained from these studies is likely to have a significant impact on medical and cognitive outcome in children with quite varying conditions, for example children with acquired cerebellar disease, brain tumour, diabetes and sleep disorders.

DeCog is the only developmental cognitive neuropsychological research unit in Australia. It conducts cognitive neuropsychological studies in children with disorders such as dyslexia or face processing deficits, using theoretical models to explain cognitive processes and to aid in our understanding of developmental disorders. These studies focus particularly on the development of treatment and intervention programs to improve outcomes in children with a range of medical and developmental conditions.

Research achievements

DeCog continues to provide numerous ongoing research projects and publications.

At the core of its research, cognitive studies build on existing theories and models to improve understanding of developmental cognitive neuropsychology disorders. Current research areas include developmental or acquired social processing in children; impairment in visual processing skills, and the nature of impairment in children with dyslexia who are unable to process individual letters.

Research into neuropsychological outcomes and ongoing collaborations have continued this year. These studies form a special research focus regarding the neurological, behavioural, and psychological consequences of traumatic brain injuries, tumours, diseases and syndromes. Studies include acquired cerebellar disease in childhood; recovery of language skills in the Landau-Kleffner Syndrome, and neuropsychological outcome in long-term survivors of low grade brain tumors in infancy and childhood.

DeCog also conducts a range of projects which focus on monitoring the effectiveness of medical interventions in relation to neuropsychological functioning. For example, research is looking at the long-term effects of hypoglycaemia on the executive functioning of children with Type 1 Diabetes. Another study is assessing changes in cognition, mood and behaviour in children with Type 1 Diabetes starting Insulin Pump Therapy.

A Reading and Spelling Disorders Clinic was established this year, based on principles derived from empirical research completed at DeCog. The first such initiative in NSW, this clinic offers assessment and treatment for children and adolescents with reading and spelling disorders. The clinic provides evidence-based remediation programs to the most severely affected children.