Jessica Church-Lang, PhD

Assistant Professor

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Personal profile


Jessica Church-Lang grew up in Mount Pleasant, Michigan and earned a B.A. at Smith College in Northampton, Massachusetts. She earned a Ph.D. in neuroscience from Washington University in St. Louis, Missouri, in 2008. She is an assistant professor in Dell Med's Department of Psychiatry and in the Department of Psychology in the College of Liberal Arts. She has a strong interest in how cognitive processes develop over age, and in how research on atypical development illuminates the vulnerable aspects of cognitive development pathways. Research in the lab currently focuses on the development of executive functions and reading in late childhood and early adolescence.

Church-Lang is head of the Austin neuroimaging site of the Texas Learning Disabilities Research Center project on reading intervention and brain change ( That project is particularly focused on how networks of the brain involved in task control relate to academic skill development and skill improvement over time. As part of the reading-intervention project, as well as in the lab's other research efforts in children with attention and learning disorders, researchers are focusing on brain and behavioral changes over two time periods: over the course of an intervention and over the course of early puberty. To address these questions, Church-Lang's lab uses behavioral methods such as cognitive tests (where they measure response times, accuracy on tasks, or eye movements), actigraphy (where they measure activity levels during sleep and wake), pubertal hormone assessments, neuropsychological assessments, neuroimaging (fMRI, resting-state fcMRI), and studies of patient populations (e.g. children with Tourette syndrome, ADHD, or dyslexia).

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Research Output 2005 2018

Social Class
Behavioral Genetics
Genetic Research

Control engagement during sentence and inhibition fMRI tasks in children with reading difficulties

Roe, M. A., Martinez, J. E., Mumford, J. A., Taylor, W. P., Cirino, P. T., Fletcher, J. M., Juranek, J. & Church-Lang, J., Oct 1 2018, In : Cerebral Cortex. 28, 10, p. 3697-3710 14 p.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Magnetic Resonance Imaging
Executive Function

Perceptual Biases During Cued Task Switching Relate to Decision Process Differences Between Children and Adults

Martinez, J. E., Mack, M. L., Bauer, J. R., Roe, M. A. & Church, J. A., Jul 19 2018, (Accepted/In press) In : Journal of Experimental Psychology: Human Perception and Performance.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Task Performance and Analysis
Short-Term Memory
Young Adult
Decision Making
6 Citations

Children's head motion during fMRI tasks is heritable and stable over time

Engelhardt, L. E., Roe, M. A., Juranek, J., DeMaster, D., Harden, K., Tucker-Drob, E. & Church-Lang, J., Jun 1 2017, In : Developmental Cognitive Neuroscience. 25, p. 58-68 11 p.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Magnetic Resonance Imaging
Post and Core Technique
Dizygotic Twins
1 Citations

Consistent performance differences between children and adults despite manipulation of cue-target variables

Bauer, J. R., Martinez, J. E., Roe, M. A. & Church-Lang, J., Aug 3 2017, In : Frontiers in Psychology. 8, AUG, 1304.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Short-Term Memory
Reaction Time
Task Performance and Analysis
Age Groups