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New research project aims to unravel the parallel unfolding of cognitive development and mental health in children

29 November 2016

A new research project led by the UCL Institute of Education (IOE) will explore the parallel unfolding of cognitive and socio-emotional development in children.

Funded by the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) and led by Professor Eirini Flouri, the three year project will use data from the IOE’s Millennium Cohort Study on 3,5,7,11 and 14-year-old children.

Teacher in classroom

The research will question whether the developmental trajectories of children’s cognitive ability and mental health run in parallel. It will explore the extent to which the different joint trajectories in childhood can predict outcomes in adolescence, such as: academic performance; substance use, sexual behaviour; antisocial behaviour; bullying, peer victimisation; depressive symptoms and subjective well-being.

Professor Flouri, Principal Investigator, said:

“Cognitive ability and mental health are key characteristics of child functioning, each being associated with multiple short- and long-term outcomes. It is becoming increasingly clear that they are also intertwined, but we still do not know how cognitive ability and mental health combine in the general child population, and over time.

" In the next three years, we aim to answer several questions pertinent to this parallel unfolding.

The research will also assess the impact of family and school settings on this co-development. Family setting will be captured by socio-economic background, parenting and parental mental health. School setting will look at the demographic and social make-up of the student body, 'school quality' (measured here by levels of school-average achievement and student absenteeism) and school organisation (ability grouping).

The project brings together a multidisciplinary team across the IOE and UCL Psychiatry.

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