News & Events

Lab Team, Fall 2019

We have 4 graduate students, a new lab manager, and a group of undergraduates (just missing 1 in the photo below) for Fall 2019. We met for our first weekly lab meeting of the semester on Friday 9/13.

Flux Conference, September 2019

In September, Jess, Mary Abbe, Tehila, and Damion attended the Flux Congress for Developmental Cognitive Neuroscience in New York City. Jess chaired a session of young investigator presentations, while the 3 grad students presented great posters combining across lab datasets on topics related to ADHD, error processing, and individual identification. Tehila and Mary Abbe also attended the Flux pre-conference: “Beyond the lab: Translating developmental neuroscience.”

NeuroHackademy & ABCD Workshops, August 2019

Damion spent the majority of August participating in hackathon and open science events. He was part of Neurohackademy 2019 in Seattle, WA and attended the ABCD Dataset Workshop in Portland, OR. Damion was involved in numerous collaborative “open hack” projects and is looking forward to continuing his involvement in events fostering the open science framework, as part of the organizational team for the Brainhack Global 2019 event in November.

Undergraduate Posters, April 2019

Nikita presented her poster “Factors Impacting Executive Function Activity in the Brain” at the College of Natural Sciences Undergraduate Research Forum.

Kinsey presented her poster “Investigating the Relationship Between ADHD Symptom Burden and Executive Functions” at the Longhorn Research Poster Session.

Isa, Montse, and Yadira presented their poster “Task Switching in Monolingual and Bilingual Adolescents” at the Longhorn Research Poster Session.

Middle School Outreach Event, April 2019

The Church Lab hosted 7th grade AVID students from Park Crest Middle School for a fun afternoon of science activities! The students got to hold animal brains, get inside a pretend MRI machine, learn about visual adaptation with prism goggles, and decode monster genetics!




Thinkery 21: Superpowers, April 2019

Jess, Mary Abbe, Damion, and Laura ran a booth at the Thinkery’s event on Superpowers, showcasing the wonders of visual adaptation!


SRCD & CNS Conferences, March 2019

Tehila attended the Society for Research in Child Development 2019 Biennial Meeting.

Mary Abbe and Mackenzie attended the Cognitive Neuroscience Society’s Annual Meeting.

Promotion to Associate Professor, February 2019

Jess was promoted to the position of Associate Professor, so we threw her a party!



Kirby Hall School Outreach Event, February 2019

Jess, Mackenzie, and Kinsey visited Kirby Hall School to talk with 2nd and 5th grade students about the brain! They performed a neuron play, acting out how signals are sent between the body and the brain, and got to hold animal brains!



New Paper in NeuroImage, January 2019

We have a new paper in NeuroImage!

The neural architecture of executive functions is established by middle childhood.

NBC News BETTER, December 2018
Jess was quoted discussing strategies for improving your reading skills in the article, ‘How to be a better reader’!
New Papers, Fall 2018

Tehila and Mary Abbe’s papers from the LDRC reading intervention study were recently accepted for publication!

In comparing struggling and non-struggling readers, Mary Abbe found that differences in executive control engagement were largely specific to a reading task and not to a control task, indicating that struggling readers may not have general control deficits. Tehila extended this finding across the intervention to show that network engagement during a reading task, but not during a control task, separated improvers and non-improvers from non-struggling readers. This indicates that brain changes related to intervention outcome in struggling readers were specific to the reading process.

Nugiel, T., Roe, M. A., Taylor, W. P., Cirino, P. T., Vaughn, S. R., Fletcher, J. M., Juranek, J., & Church, J. A. (In Press). Brain activity in struggling readers before intervention relates to future reading gains. Cortex.

Roe, M.A., Martinez, J.E., Mumford, J.A., Taylor, W.P., Cirino, P.T., Fletcher, J.M., Juranek, J., Church, J.A. (2018). Control Engagement During Sentence and Inhibition fMRI Tasks in Children With Reading DifficultiesCerebral Cortex,28(10), 3697-3710. bhy170,

Society for Neuroscience, November 2018
Damion presented results from his current project focusing on the heritability of functional network organization at the Society for Neuroscience (SfN) Conference in San Diego, CA!
Texas Center for Learning Disabilities, October 2018
Isa, Yadira, Nancy, and Montse (clockwise from top) are undergraduate RAs and native Spanish speakers in the Church Lab working on a neuroimaging study of bilingual middle schoolers. As part of a multi-site, NIH-funded project, the Church Lab is investigating changes in neural activity across the course of a reading intervention.

Education Research Matters, September 2018
Mary Abbe’s paper “Control Engagement During Sentence and Inhibition Tasks in Children With Reading Difficulties” is featured in the September 2018 edition of the Texas Center for Learning Disabilities blog Education Research Matters!
Dr. Laura Engelhardt, July 2018
Laura successfully defended her dissertation: Biological mechanisms underlying the unity and diversity of executive functions in childhood
Laura with her co-advisors, Elliot Tucker-Drob and Jessica Church-Lang!
UT Green Labs, May 2018
The Church Lab, as well as the Children’s Research Center, has been recognized by UT for exemplary sustainability practices in energy, water, and waste management! We are happy to contribute our part to The University of Texas goal to be waste free by 2020!
The Office of Sustainability has certified the Church Lab as both a Green Lab and a Green Office!
End of Semester Celebration, May 2018
The lab celebrated the end of a productive semester with a zero waste potluck lunch and a few rounds of lab-related trivia led by our very own quizmaster, Tehila!
Plan II, Psychology Honors, May 2018
Undergraduate RA and Honors Student, Emily, presented her thesis work on executive functions, ADHD, and internalizing symptoms!
Outreach Event, April 2018
Middle school students visited our lab for an afternoon of animal brains, pretend MRIs, and science games!
UT Research Week, April 2018
Undergraduate RA, Tiffany, presented her work on the relationship between DHEA (a pubertal hormone) and ADHD symptom burden at the Longhorn Research Bazaar!
College of Natural Sciences: Undergraduate Research Forum, April 2018
Undergraduate RAs, Delayna and Marie, presented their poster on ADHD and actigraphy recordings at the CNS research symposium!
Journal of Experimental Psychology: Human Perception and Performance, March 2018

We have a new paper in press at Journal of Experimental Psychology: Human Perception and Performance!

Martinez JE, Mack ML, Bauer JR, Roe MA, Church JA.  Perceptual biases during cued task switching relate to decision process differences between children and adults. Accepted at Journal of Experimental Psychology: Human Perception and Performance. 2018

Jess’s Birthday, January 2017

We celebrated Jess’s birthday with an escape room – we made it out with 15 minutes to spare!

Holiday Party, December 2017

We celebrated the end of the semester with bowling and air hockey at the Union Underground!


Second Year Talks, December 2017

Second year graduate students, Damion and Tehila, gave presentations to the Cognitive Neuroscience area on their current projects. Damion presented his work investigating how “Resting-state control networks support overlapping executive-function task activity in middle childhood.” Tehila presented on how “Brain activity relates to skill change in struggling readers” from the LDRC reading intervention study.


Resting State fMRI Analyses, November 2017

Undergraduate RAs, Madison and Nikita, are working with Damion to prepare resting state fMRI images for analysis. We are investigating similarities and differences in resting brain activity of parents and their children.


Society for Neuroscience, November 2017

Tehila presented results of the reading intervention study at the Society for Neuroscience (SfN) Conference in Washington D.C.!

Texas Center for Learning Disabilities, October 2017

Our collaborative reading intervention project with the Texas Center for Learning Disabilities received an $8.4 million grant from the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development to continue work for another five years! Take a look at this press release from the University of Houston.


Flux Conference, September 2017

Our graduate students presented posters at the Flux Society Conference in Portland, Oregon!



Frontiers in Psychology, August 2017

We have a new paper in press at Frontiers in Psychology!

Bauer JR*, Martinez JE*, Roe MA, Church JA. Consistent performance differences between children and adults despite manipulation of cue-target variables. 2017 in press, Frontiers in Psychology: Developmental.           *Co-first authors



Lab Party at The Goodnight, August 2017

Annie, our faithful lab manager, is going off to graduate school at Washington University in St. Louis. We said goodbye with bowling and a pub quiz!



The New York Times, July 2017

Dr. Church-Lang was quoted discussing discipline and positive reinforcement in the article “If Tech Execs Act Like Spoiled Brats, Should We Spank Them?”



SRCD Conference, April 2017



Girl Day/STEM Festival, February 2017

Getting down and dirty with sheep brains!



Holiday Party, December 2016



Middle School Outreach, December 2016

Pflugerville Middle School students came to our lab for an afternoon of science fun!



April 2016

A month of exciting events! Alyssa and Rawand, both graduating seniors, presented posters at UT’s undergraduate research symposiums! Lauren got into medical school! Congratulations all around.

Alyssa poster Rawand posterIMG_7310



St. Louis Public Radio, December 2015

We were featured in a St. Louis Public Radio piece on the middle school brain and education!










Holiday Party, December 2015

Holiday 2015



Longhorn Halloween, October 2015

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Mary Abbe representing the Church Lab at the Cognitive Development Society Conference, October 2015

CDS 2015



Birthday celebration for Alyssa, Anna and Laura! October, 2015




Lab Happy Hour, August 2015

Joel leaving



Lab Trivia Night, Pinthouse Pizza, February 3, 2014




Lab Secret Santa, UT Austin, December 10, 2014

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Explore UT, UT Austin, March 1, 2014

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Making Valentines for Kids in Children’s Hospitals, UT Austin, February 2014

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Longhorn Halloween, UT Austin, October 27, 2013

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Church Lab, UT Austin, August 22, 2013




UT Outreach Events, Austin, Summer 2013

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Making of the Imaging Research Center Welcome Movie, UT Austin, 2013











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