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Human Development and Family Studies

Faculty Profile

University of Southern California, 1982

C.R. Hutcheson Professor, Human Development and Family Studies
Associate Dean for Research, College of Human Sciences


Cognitive modeling of perception, memory, and language as they relate to the underlying structure and neural circuitry of the human brain

Investigation of the specialized functions of the left and right cerebral hemispheres and how they serve as the neurological basis for individual differences in higher-order thinking processes, particularly, hemispheric differences as a function of handedness, sex, and mathematical giftedness

The study of neurologically brain-damaged individuals and how their impairments reveal fundamental principles of brain development and neuro-cognitive functioning.

Recent Publications:

Singh, H. & O'Boyle, M.W. (2004). Differences in interhemispheric interaction during global/local processing in mathematically gifted adolescents, average ability youth and college students. Neuropsychology, 18, 371-377.

Silk, T., Vance, A., Rinehart, N., Egan, G., O’Boyle, M.W., Bradshaw, J.L., & Cunnington, R. (2005). Decreased frontal-parietal activation in attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, combined type (ADHD-CT): An fMRI study. British Journal of Psychiatry, 187, 282-283.

O'Boyle, M.W., Cunnington, R., Silk, T., Vaughan, D., Jackson, G., Syngeniotis, A., & Egan, G. (2005). Mathematically gifted male adolescents activate a unique brain network during mental rotation. Cognitive Brain Research, 25, 583-587.

Silk, T., Rinehart, N., Bradshaw, J.L., Tonge, B., Egan, G., O’Boyle, M.W., & Cunnington, R. (2006).
Visuospatial processing and the function of prefrontal-parietal networks in Autism Spectrum          Disorder: a functional MRI study. American Journal of Psychiatry, 163, 1440-1443.

Prescott, J., Gavrilescu, M., Cunnington, R, O’Boyle, M.W. & Egan, G.F. (2010). Enhanced intra-hemispheric fronto-parietal connectivity in math gifted adolescents: An fMRI study of mental rotation. Cognitive Neuroscience, 277-288.

James, R. N., III & O’Boyle, M. W.  (2012). Charitable estate planning as visualized autobiography: An    fMRI study of its neural correlates. Nonprofit and Voluntary Sector Quarterly, 1-19.

Li, Y.  & O’Boyle, M.W. (2013).  How Sex and College Major Relate to Mental Rotation Accuracy and Preferred Strategy: An Electroencephalographic (EEG) Investigation. ThePsychological Record, 63, 27-42

Recent Grants:

Project Title: South Plains Mathematics Scholars Project. Co-PI, National Science Foundation, 2007-2012, $571,580.
Project Title: Neuropsychological and cognitive sequelae of binge drinking. Co-PI, Texas Tech University-Texas Tech Health Sciences Center, Joint Initiative Grant, 2008-2009, $253,342.

Project Title: Modeling of the human brain through synergistic neuroimaging. Co-PI, Texas Tech University Research Development Grant, 2008-2010, $480,928.

Project Title: Integrated STEM Initiative on the South Plains. Senior Personnel, National Science   Foundation, 2009-2014, $977,962.

Project Title:  RMR-TTU: Recruitment, mentoring, and research in mathematics and science at Texas Tech University, Senior Personnel, National Science Foundation, 2010-2015, $1,457,733.

Project Title: East Lubbock Promise Neighborhood, Co-PI, U.S. Department of Education, Promise Neighborhood Grant, 2013-2017, $24,560,115.