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College of Arts & Sciences
Institute for Mind & Brain

2019 Conference

The Institute for Mind and Brain at the University of South Carolina is organizing a one-day conference on the Executive Function in Mind & Brain, Friday, March 1, 2019. This is the third in a series of regular forums for highlighting current topics in cognitive neuroscience. The conference features three featured presentations, as well as invited contributions by local researchers and a poster session.

Executive functioning refers to cognitive processes involved in managing the mental resources necessary to achieve goals and function adaptively in the environment.  These higher order cognitive processes generally require effortful control of attention to direct planning, self-monitoring, inhibition, emotional control, initiation of action and flexible use of working memory.  Prefrontal cortex and frontal lobe functioning have proven to be key determinants of effective executive functioning.  Executive function follows a developmental time course as it grows in childhood and declines in later life.  Given its critical role for self-sufficient human functioning, a better understanding of the determinants and consequences of executive function is essential in the study of mind and brain.

The one-day conference on the Executive Function in Mind & Brain invites students and faculty to consider several fundamental questions. What are the brain bases of executive control? Can executive function be improved with training or by other means?  How does language impact executive function and conversely how does executive function impact language? What are the risk factors for decline in executive control?  Join us for a stimulating one-day conference in which we discuss these and other questions.


Featured Speakers


Sharon L. Thompson-Schill, Ph.D.
Christopher H. Browne Distinguished Professor of Psychology
Director, MindCORE 
Professor and Chair of Psychology
University of Pennsylvania

Dr. Thompson-Schill studies the biological bases of human cognitive systems, including perception, memory, language and cognitive control.  Her research has explored the functions of the frontal lobe in the regulation of thought and behavior, especially in relation to language and memory processes. Her research employs a wide array of behavioral and neuroscientific methods with both typical and atypical populations, including fMRI, lesion-deficit mapping of neurological patients, TMS, genotypic analysis for typical variation, and eyetracking.


Mark D'Esposito, MD
Professor of Neuroscience and Psychology
Director, Henry H. Wheeler, Jr. Brain Imaging Center
University of California, Berkeley

Dr. Mark T. D’Esposito studies the neural bases of high-level cognitive processes such as working memory and executive control. Using a neuroimaging technology, his research lab has identified neuroanatomical substrates and temporal dynamics of various cognitive processes supported by prefrontal cortex. His lab has used pharmacological methods to investigate the role of the dopaminergic system in working memory and frontal lobe function. He has used behavioral and other methodologies to better understand prefrontal function in patient populations and in normal aging


Ellen Bialystok, OC, PhD, FRSC
Distinguished Research Professor
Walter Gordon York Research Chair in Lifespan Cognitive Development
York University
 Dr. Bialystok’s research has used behavioral and neuroimaging methods to examine the effect of bilingualism on cognitive processes across the lifespan. Major findings from her work include the identification of differences in the development of essential cognitive and language abilities for bilingual children, the use of different brain networks by monolingual and bilingual young adults performing simple conflict tasks, and the postponement of symptoms of dementia in bilingual older adults. Her research raises the possibility that bilingualism contributes to cognitive reserve, which is associated with a delay in the onset of symptoms of dementia.



USC Speakers


Rutvik H. Desai
Professor of Psychology
College of Arts and Sciences
University of South Carolina
Dr. Desai investigates the neural basis of representation of meanings of words and sentences, in both healthy and neurologically impaired populations.  His lab investigates topics such as involvement of sensory motor systems of the brain in representing concepts, similarities and differences in processing varieties of concepts including abstract ones, processing of language, and brain basis of metaphor understanding. He uses function MRI, transcranial magnetic stimulation, and behavioral studies of patients and healthy individuals to address these issues.


Robert Davis Moore, MS, Ph.D.
Assistant Professor of Exercise Science
Arnold School of Public Health
University of South Carolina
Dr. Moore uses a variety of psychophysiological, behavioral, and clinical measures to investigate the short- and long-term outcomes of concussive injuries. His research on concussion focuses on 1) creating more comprehensive and sensitive assessment protocols; 2) identifying factors that moderate injury outcomes; and 3) developing active rehabilitation protocols for post-concussion syndrome. Dr. Moore’s secondary line of research focuses on the influence of health factors such as physical activity, fitness, and obesity on neuropsychological health.


Under the sponsorship of the College of Arts and Sciences, the Institute for Mind and Brain invites you to explore the many facets of executive function in mind & brain.  We look forward to scientific discourse related to talks, posters and networking with researchers in the area of cognitive neuroscience.  Students, faculty and other researchers in the field are invited to participate. Please register at our website and join us at the Capstone Campus Room at the University of South Carolina for an exploration of mind and brain.


We will have a poster session at the conference and highly encourage researchers to apply to present.  Send the following information in a word document (email attachment to by 2/1/19:

First author (Name, affiliation, position)

Additional authors (Names and Affiliations)

Title of poster (up to 20 words)

Abstract (up to 200 words)



The conference is from 9:00am-5:00pm and includes snacks and lunch.

The conference will be held in the Capstone Campus Room at 902 Barnwell St. Columbia, SC 29208.

Early Bird Registration 1/7/19 -2/1/19:      Students $35, Faculty and Other $50

Regular Registration   2/2/19- 2/14/19:     Students $60, Faculty and Other $75

Click here to register

As part of the University of South Carolina’s emphasis on undergraduate research, USC students may register for free attendance without lunch.  Registration must be made by the deadline (2/14/19).

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