An exploratory study to understand the attitudes among the parents towards cognitive enhancements interventions to address cognitive difficulties in their children

Background and Information on the project:

Our research project aims to explore parental understanding of cognitive impairment and cognitive enhancement in children, in low and middle-income settings (LMICs). Enhancing cognitive ability during childhood could have a significant impact on attainment a child’s true developmental potential, which in turn could lead to an improvement in quality of life for the individual and their family. This is particularly relevant in low-income settings, where developmental potential may not be attained due to a variety of factors including poverty and limited access to resources. Despite this, there is little research to-date on how parents perceive methods for cognitive enhancement, and particularly, which specific methods would be acceptable to low-income families who may have limited access to healthcare and information on these methodologies. This study aims to reduce the knowledge gap in this area, by conducting a qualitative study with parents of children in Delhi, India. Our research will inform future studies investigating cognitive enhancement interventions in LMICs, and has the potential to inform the direction of global neuroscience research.

PI Bios:

Dr Jayashree Dasgupta (Sangath)

Jayashree Dasgupta is a clinical psychologist by training with a specialization in neuropsychology. She holds an MPhil and PhD from the National Institute of Mental Health and Neurosciences (NIMHANS), India, where her PhD work profiled HIV associated neurocognitive disorder in Clade C HIV infection. Her current research focuses on understanding how detection of neurocognitive disorders across the lifespan and access to treatment can be can be improved by the use of technology. As the Project Director at Sangath for START (Screening Tools for Autism Risk Using Technology), she is developing a tablet based platform, which has the potential to be used by non-specialist workers to screen for neurodevelopmental disorders at the community level. Previously she has worked with the Public Health Foundation of India looking at how community led interventions for maternal depression can be scaled-up; and with Pearson, leading the Indian adaptation of psychological tests for assessment of intellectual ability and specific learning disabilities.

As a clinician, she has worked extensively with children and adults in hospital and clinical settings, providing cognitive rehabilitation and stimulation therapies. It is this experience which has sparked her interest to explore the ethical issues around cognitive enhancement techniques and access to such interventions in low resource settings.

Dr Georgia Lockwood Estrin (Sangath, Birkbeck College, University of London UK)

Georgia’s research interests lie at the interface between neuroscience and public health. She is particularly interested in translation of neuroscientific methods into global mental health to improve detection of developmental disorders in children, particularly in low resource settings. As a Sir Henry Wellcome post-doc fellow, her work focuses on establishing the ability, feasibility and acceptability of using portable eye-tracking technology to identify children at risk of Autism Spectrum Disorders in low-income contexts, specifically in India. This research also extends to child development and the neuroethics surrounding the use of cognitive enhancers in low-income settings to improve the developmental potential of children living in poverty.
Prior to working at the CBCD, Georgia was as Senior Research Associate in the Section for Women’s Mental Health, IoPPN, King’s College London, and before that a Research Fellow in the Centre for Global Mental Health at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine (LSHTM). Her PhD, from Imperial College London, focused on investigating the neurodevelopment of foetuses and infants at risk of developmental disorders using Diffusion Tensor Magnetic Resonance Imaging. Her Bsc and MSc, at University of Nottingham and University College London respectively was in Clinical Neuroscience. She is now working on combining this neuroscience background into public health and global mental health research.

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