Ozlem Ayduk, Ph.D.
Associate Professor, UC Berkeley
I study the developmental precursors and long-term consequences of the ability to delay gratification in children. For example, in past work, we have shown that sensitive parenting is an important precursor to the development of this competency in children. Our work has also documented that early delay ability in children predict a wide range of positive outcomes later in life, including better cognitive control in adolescence, and social-cognitive competencies in adulthood. We have also documented that delay of gratification ability serves as buffer against interpersonal vulnerabilities.
In current collaborative work, we are focusing on understanding the cognitive and neural basis of divergent developmental trajectories in delay of gratification. In one study, we are working with a group of participants who have completed the delay task when they were in preschool more than 40 years ago. Our goal is to probe whether differences in inhibitory control, working memory, or ability to suppress unwanted information explain the differences between good and poor self-regulators. Additionally, we are exploring the neural correlates of performance differences in these three domains of cognitive control in an fMRI study. In a second study, we are working with 6 to 8 year children and running them through the delay of gratification task in an fMRI study to more directly examine the neural networks that may support this important competency.