Laboratory for the Psychology

of Child Development

and Education

The laboratory

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The LaPsyDÉ (UMR CNRS 8240)

At the interface of child psychology, pedagogy, and human biology (brain imaging technologies), working with a large network of schools (preschool and up), the LaPsyDÉ, directed by Olivier Houdé who is known for his cognitive-inhibition theory of reasoning, explores the mechanisms of development and learning. In each child’s or adult’s brain, fast and intuitive heuristics or cognitive biases (System 1, D. Kahneman) and logical rules or exact algorithms (System 2, J. Piaget) may compete at any time. Such competitions are called “cognitive conflicts”. There are examples in all academic learning skills: reading, writing, counting, thinking (or reasoning) and respecting others. To overcome these conflicts, the whole-brain adaptation (i.e., intelligence or flexibility) depends on the executive control ability of the prefrontal cortex (System 3) in connections with emotions and feelings to inhibit System 1 and to activate System 2 on a case-by-case basis, depending on the context. Metacognitive training in the laboratory or at school may be designed to help the brain to do so. It is useful for both children and adults, as the latter remain poor reasoners in many situations where their System 1 dominates, often unconsciously.

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A lab at La Sorbonne

Located in the Sorbonne University, at the historical location of the first experimental psychology laboratory created in France by Alfred Binet in 1896, the LaPsyD… lab gathers researchers in Developmental Psychology, Cognitive Neuroscience, as well as experts in the field of Education. Since 2012, the site of the Sorbonne is equipped with a High Density EEG facility for neuroimaing studies in children, adolescents and adults.  

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The Cyceron platform

Cyceron is a brain imaging platform located in Caen, where researches in Neuroscience have been conducted since 1985. Group of Public Interest (GPI) under the supervision of the French Ministry of Research and Higher Education, Cyceron's members are the major national research insitutions (CEA, CNRS, INSERM), the University of Caen Normandy and its university-affiliated hospital, the FranÁois Baclesse center for cancer research, the National Heavy Ions Accelerator (GANIL), and the Basse-Normandie region.

In its 6000m2 space, Cyceron hosts a unique body of laboratories and facilities: molecular and cellular biology labs, two PET/CT scanners, two MRI scanners (3T and 7T) and one EEG scanner. This nationally recognized platform is operated and developed thanks to a team of engineers and technicians, whose competences are mutualized among shared services (for more information, http://www.cyceron.fr). For more than 10 years, the LaPsyDÉ has been conducting research on brain and cognitive development using the 3T MRI scanner.

The Sainte Anne platform

This research facility, specialised in the imaging of the human nervous system, is located within the Sainte-Anne hospital, and affiliated to the Paris Descartes University. It belongs to the central Paris site of the France Life Imaging network. The platform, opened to the scientific community, is dedicated to clinical and cognitive neuroscience, with a high quality equipment allowing a complete investigation of the central nervous system (functional and anatomical MRI, diffusion, perfusion, and flux imaging, spectroscopy). The Centre for research imaging and education in neuroscience (CIREN) provides its expertise and the platform’s resources to the research teams within and outside of Sainte Anne. They offer their help throughout all the steps of the studies (design, data collection and analysis, outreach).