Eric Knudsen

Eric Knudsen is the Edward C. and Amy H. Sewall Professor at Stanford University School of Medicine. His research focuses on mechanisms of learning and attention and strategies of information processing in the central auditory system. He investigates how the capacity for learning changes with development and the effects of early experience on structure and function in the brain. Dr. Knudsen received his PhD from the University of California, San Diego in 1976, completed a postdoctoral fellowship at the California Institute of Technology in 1979, and joined the faculty of the Department of Neurobiology at Stanford University in 1988. Dr. Knudsen has received awards that include the Newcomb Cleveland Prize, the Society for Neuroscience Young Investigator Award, McKnight Neuroscience Development and Senior Investigator Awards, the Troland Research Award, and the Peter Gruber Prize in Neuroscience. Dr. Knudsen was elected to the National Academy of Sciences in 2002.

Papers Published in World Economics:

Economic, Neurobiological and Behavioral Perspectives on Building America’s Future Workforce

A growing proportion of the US workforce will have been raised in disadvantaged environments that are associated with relatively high proportions of individuals with diminished cognitive and social skills. A cross-disciplinary examination of research in economics, developmental psychology, and neurobiology reveals a striking convergence on a set of common principles that account for the potent effects of early environment on the capacity for human skill development. Central to these principles are the findings that early experiences have a uniquely powerful influence on the development of cognitive and social skills, as well as on brain architecture and neurochemistry; that both skill development and brain maturation are hierarchical processes in which higher level functions depend on, and build on, lower level functions; and that the capacity for change in the foundations of human skill development and neural circuitry is highest earlier in life and decreases over time. These findings lead to the conclusion that the most efficient strategy for strengthening the future workforce, both economically and neurobiologically, and for improving its quality of life is to invest in the environments of disadvantaged children during the early childhood years.

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