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Church-Lang, Jessica

Jessica A Church-Lang

Associate Professor
Department of Psychology, College of Liberal Arts

Wayne H. Holtzman Regents Chair in Psychology (Fellow) | Charles and Sarah Seay Regents Professorship in Developmental Psychology (Fellow)


Phone: 512-475-7009

Office Location
SEA 2.216

Postal Address
AUSTIN, TX 78712

Dr. Church-Lang received her Ph.D. in Neuroscience from Washington University in St. Louis in 2008. She has a strong interest in how cognitive processes develop over age, and in how research on atypical development illuminates the vulnerable aspects of typical cognitive development. Research in the lab currently focuses on the development of cognitive skills such as task switching and reading in late childhood and early adolescence. Dr. Church-Lang is heading the neuroimaging arm of the Meadows and Vaughn Gross Center project on 4th grade reading intervention at UT Austin. We are interested in whether neuroimaging can reveal differences between struggling readers who respond to intervention and those who don't, as well as in exploring differences between struggling and non-struggling readers during sentence comprehension. We're particularly interested in how regions of the brain involved in attention relate to reading disorders.  As part of the reading-intervention project, as well as in other research efforts, we are exploring the development of short-duration, rapidly-adjusting adaptive control brain networks, how they might be different in typical and atypical development, and how they interact over age with the rest of the brain. To address these questions, we use behavioral methods such as cognitive tests (where we measure reaction times, accuracy on tasks, or eye movements), neuropsychological assessments, neuroimaging (fMRI, resting-state fcMRI), and studies of patient populations (e.g. children with Tourette syndrome or dyslexia).

Research in our lab currently focuses on the development of cognitive skills such as task switching and reading in late childhood and early adolescence. We are interested in how cognitive processes develop over age and think atypical development enriches our understanding of what is ‘typical’ by providing insight as to the vulnerable aspects of cognitive development. To address our questions, we use behavioral methods such as cognitive tests, neuropsychological assessments, eye tracking, neuroimaging, and studies of patient populations.


  • Engelhardt LE, Mann FD, Briley DA, Church JA, Harden KP, Tucker-Drob EM. Strong genetic overlap between executive functions and intelligence. Journal of Experimental Psychology: General. 2016. doi:10.1037/xge0000195
  • Church JA, Bunge SA, Petersen SE, Schlaggar BL. Preparatory engagement of cognitive control networks increases late in childhood. Cerebral Cortex. 2016. doi: 10.1093/cercor/bhw046
  • Greene DJ, Church JA, Dosenbach NUF, Nielsen AN, Adeyemo B, Nardos, B, Petersen SE, Black KJ, Schlaggar BL. Multivariate pattern classification of pediatric Tourette syndrome using functional connectivity MRI. Developmental Science. 2016. doi: 10.1111/desc.12407
  • Stewart SB, Greene DJ, Lessov-Schlaggar CN, Church JA, Schlaggar BL. Clinical correlates of parenting stress in children with Tourette Syndrome and in Typically Developing Children. The Journal of Pediatrics. 2015. 166(5):1297-1302. http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.jpeds.2015.01.041
  • Church JA, Schlaggar BL. Pediatric Tourette syndrome: insights from recent neuroimaging studies. Journal of Obsessive-Compulsive and Related Disorders. Special Issue: Tourette Syndrome Update. 2014; 3(4):386-393. http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.jocrd.2014.04.002