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Developmental Cognitive Neuroscience

Lab of Adele Diamond

Jeanette Evans







Contact Info

E-mail:jevan049 AT uottawa.ca

Research Interests

Numerous developmental factors collectively contribute to a child’s development and their subsequent ability to successfully function and interact with their environment. Among others, developmental outcomes include cognitive functioning (which contributes to a child’s abilities for learning and success in school), capacity for social interaction, and capacity for physical interaction with their environment. The developmental factors contributing to a child’s development are numerous and span a vast variety of disciplines. Jeanette’s research interests lie centered around the effects and interactions of gender, genotype, stress, birth and early life trauma, premature birth, and social/familial interactions on the developmental outcomes of children.

 

Current Research Projects

For a complete listing of the research projects in the DevCogNeuro Lab, visit our Research Page

Gender Differences in the Effect of COMT Genotype on Cognitive Functions that Depend on the Frontal Lobe

Jeanette is currently working a project examining how gender and genotype might interact with respect to an individual’s ability to perform a specific set of cognitive functions, called executive functions.

“Executive functions” refers to a cluster of cognitive skills dependent upon the prefrontal cortex. It includes

A) “ Working memory”: Holding information in mind and being able to mentally work with it, such as relating one idea to another or doing mental arithmetic.

B) “ Inhibition, effortful- or self-control”: Being able to resist a strong inclination to do one thing and instead do what is correct or required, such as not giving in to your first impulse when a more considered response is required.

C) “ Cognitive flexibility”: The ability to flexibly adjust to changed demands, changed priorities, or new challenges in order to complete some goal-directed action.

These cognitive control skills are thought to be the building blocks for many higher-order skills such as planning, problem solving, concept formation, and self-monitoring that are critical for cognitive and social development, and for success in school and in life.

Performance on executive function tasks is affected by prefrontal cortex dopamine levels. Clearance of dopamine in prefrontal cortex is critically dependent upon the deactivation of dopamine by the catechol-O-methyltransferase (COMT) enzyme.

Based on results found previously by Diamond and Colleagues (2004), the purpose of this study is to investigate further whether gender and menstrual cycle phase might interact with the effects of COMT genotype on the performance of executive function tasks.

 

Publications and Presentations

Child and Family Research Institute, Student Research Forum; Poster Presentation, June 21, 2007: Evans, J.W., Chau, V., Poskitt, K.J., Soulikias, W., & Miller, S.P. White matter injury is associated with widespread brain abnormalities on diffusion tensor imaging in the premature newborn.

Evans, J., Linney, N., & Schmidt, M. Sept, 2004. The Ice/Agar Phantom: The development of a realistic phantom designed to verify the accuracy of a computer algorithm that calculates the volume of the human cerebral ventricular system based on CT images. Technical Report No. 2004-09, Technical Report Series, Department of Mathematics and Computing Science, Saint Mary’s University.

Tansley, G.H., Burgess, B.L., Bryan, M.T., Su, Y., Hirsch-Reinshagen, V., Pearce, J., Chan, J.Y., Wilkinson, A., Evans, J., Naus, K.E., McIsaac, S., Bromley, K., Song, W., Yang, H.-C., Wang, N., DeMattos, R.B., & Wellington, C.L. 2007. The cholesterol transporter ABCG1modulates the subcellular distribution and proteolytic processing of beta-amyloid precursor protein. Journal of Lipid Research, 48(5):1022-34.

Pawluski, J.L., Barakauskas, VE, Evans J.W., & Galea, LAM. Estrogen receptor alpha expression is altered during pregnancy in the dorsal hippocampus. Abstract submitted to Parental Brain Conference, June 2007.

Dept. of Diagnostic Radiology Annual Research Day, Dalhousie University. Gave a talk on "The verification of a computer algorithm designed to calculate the volume of the human cerebral ventricles based on CT images."

 

Education and Training

University of British Columbia M.Sc. Sept. 2007 – Current Neuroscience: Developmental Cognitive Neuroscience Lab
(director: Adele Diamond)
  UBC CIHR Trainee: 2006-2007 Neuroscience
Dalhousie University Special Undergraduate 2005 Philosophy
  B.Sc. with First Class Honours 2005 Neuroscience
  Minor Biology
 

Completed the Dalhousie Integrated Science Program (DISP—A full-time, 5 credit, intensive first-year science program that integrates concepts and techniques across biology, chemistry, calculus, physics, earth science, statistics, psychology and the humanities)

Charles P. Allen High School 2001 Grade 12 with French Immersion Certificate

 

Personal

Jeanette has always had a passion for investing in the lives of children. She is heavily involved with children who face a variety of challenges, such as volunteering with children who have Spina Bifida. She also has a particular passion for sports. Jeanette has enjoyed ski racing, as well as coaching alpine skiing, and played on competitive soccer teams for most of her life. Jeanette also enjoys other sports including surfing, skim boarding, windsurfing, and backpacking/hiking. She also has interests in food and wine, and is pursuing her level 2 sommelier certificate.

 

Awards

2007-Current NSERC PGC M Award, University of British Columbia
June, 2007 Poster Finalist, 2007 Student Research Forum, Poster Presentation, Child and Family Research Institute 2007 Trainee Research Awards, Vancouver, BC
2006-2007 CIHR Training Grant Award, University of British Columbia
2006-2007 NSERC CGS M Award, University of British Columbia
2001-2005 Dean’s list , Dalhousie University
2004 NSERC Undergraduate Summer Research Award
2004 IWK Health Centre Student Research Award
2004 Dr. Lilyan E White Prize, Dalhousie University
2003 Dalhousie WARR Award; declined NSERC Undergraduate Summer Research Award
2003 Dalhousie’s Hector McInnes Memorial Scholarship
2002

NSERC Undergraduate Summer Research Award

2001-2005 Dalhousie University Renewable Entrance Scholarship