Brain and Language Lab

Neurocognitive Epidemiology

In large samples of individuals, what biological, demographic, and other factors (e.g., genotype, micronutrient status, sex, age, education, SES, BMI, exercise, chronotype, etc.) affect neurocognitive measures of language, memory, and other aspects of cognition? We are examining these issues in several studies, including in Indonesia (on the island of Lombok) and Taiwan, and more recently in the US and Germany.

In Indonesia, pregnant women were given either multiple micronutrients or only iron and folate, in a double blind cluster-randomized study. We examined the ensuing neurocognitive outcomes in the women themselves (Prado et al., PLoS ONE, 2012), and in their children, first at ages 3 to 4 (Prado et al.,Pediatrics, 2012), and then at ages 9 to 12 (Prado et al., 2017). The evidence suggests that multiple micronutrient supplementation improves aspects of cognition both in pregnant mothers and in their children at both age ranges. In general, the strongest effects were found for undernourished or anemic mothers. Socio-economic factors also played important roles in improving cognition. In Taiwan, we are examining several cognitive measures (declarative memory, working memory, attention, and executive function) in a sample of about 1000 middle-aged to elderly Taiwanese, and investigating the relationship between these measures and various genetic and demographic markers (Pliatsikas et al., 2019; Reifegerste et al., 2020; Veríssimo et al., 2022); also see: Healthy Aging.


Prado, E. L., Sebayang, S. K., Adawiyah, S. R., Alcock, K. J., Ullman, M. T., Muadz, H., & Shankar, A. H. (2021). Maternal depression is the predominant persistent risk for child cognitive and social-emotional problems from early childhood to pre-adolescence: A longitudinal cohort study. Social Science & Medicine, 289, 114396.

Veríssimo, J., Verhaeghen, P., Goldman, N., Weinstein, M., & Ullman, M. T. (2022). Evidence that ageing yields improvements as well as declines across attention and executive functions. Nature Human Behaviour, 6, 97–110. (Supplementary Information).

Pliatsikas, C., Meteyard, L., Veríssimo, J., DeLuca, V., Shattuck, K., & Ullman, M. T. (2020). The effect of bilingualism on brain development from early childhood to young adulthood. Brain Structure and Function, 225(7), 2131-2152.

Reifegerste, J., Veríssimo, J., Rugg, M. D., Pullman, M. Y., Babcock, L., Glei, D. A., Weinstein, M., Goldman, N., & Ullman, M. T. (2021). Early-life education may help bolster declarative memory in old age, especially for women. Aging, Neuropsychology, and Cognition, 28(2), 218-252.

Pliatsikas, C., Veríssimo, J., Babcock, L., Pullman, M. Y., Glei, D. A., Weinstein, M., Goldman, N., & Ullman, M. T. (2019). Working memory in older adults declines with age, but is modulated by sex and education. Quarterly Journal of Experimental Psychology, 72(6), 1308-1327. (Supplemental Material).

Todd, M., Schneper, L., Vasunilashorn, S. M., Notterman, D., Ullman, M. T., & Goldman, N. (2018). Apolipoprotein E, cognitive function, and cognitive decline among older Taiwanese adults. PLoS ONE, 13(10), e0206118.

Prado, E. L., Sebayang, S. K., Apriatni, M., Adawiyah, S. R., Hidayati, N., Islamiyah, A., Siddiq, S., Harefa, B., Lum, J., Alcock, K. J., Ullman, M. T., Muadz, H., & Shankar, A.H. (2017). Maternal multiple micronutrient supplementation and other biomedical and socio-environmental influences on children’s cognition at age 9–12 years in Indonesia: Follow-up of the SUMMIT randomised trial. Lancet Global Health, 5, e217–28.

Prado, E. L., Alcock, K. J., Muadz, H., Ullman, M. T., & Shankar, A.H. for the SUMMIT Study Group. (2012). Maternal multiple micronutrient supplementation in pregnancy and child cognition: A randomized trial in Indonesia. Pediatrics, 130(3), e536-546.

Prado, E. L., Ullman, M. T., Muadz, H., Alcock, K. J., Shankar, A. H., & the SUMMIT Study Group. (2012). The effect of maternal multiple micronutrient supplementation on cognition and mood during pregnancy and postpartum in Indonesia: A randomized trial. PLoS ONE, 7(3), e32519.

Prado, E. L., Hartini, S., Rahmawati, A., Ismayani, E., Hidayati, A., Hikmah, N., Muadz, H., Apriatni, M. S., Ullman, M. T., Shankar, A. H., & Alcock, K. J. (2010). Test selection, adaptation, and evaluation: three critical steps to assess nutritional influences on child development in developing countries. British Journal of Educational Psychology, 80, 31-53.