Allyson Mackey studies individual differences in brain plasticity and development with an eye towards personalizing the type and timing of educational interventions.
My plans for the fellowship period
I am interested in understanding the role of exploratory play in shaping early childhood neurocognitive development. I will study how brain structure and function influence children’s responses to play-based interventions, and in turn how these types of interventions change the brain. I will work towards developing new open-source software tools to promote play and problem solving in preschool students.
How will my work change children’s and youth’s lives?
I see both direct and indirect benefits from my work. I aim to develop interventions that directly improve children’s cognitive skills and academic outcomes. Further, I believe that rigorous research on the importance of play in early childhood has the potential to inform educational policies and curriculum design, and therefore indirectly improve educational outcomes for children. I will work to ensure that my findings are translated clearly and appropriately for parents, teachers, school leaders, and policy makers, and to make the field of educational neuroscience more broadly accessible.