John Colombo, PhD

Social and Behavioral Sciences - Psychology, Life Span Institute, College of Liberal Arts & Sciences
Professor
Director, Life Span Institute Interim Vice Chancellor of Research
Primary office:
785.864.4295
Dole Human Development Center, 1053
University of Kansas
1000 Sunnyside Avenue
Lawrence, KS 66045
Second office:
785.864.4295
Dole Human Development Center, 1052



Summary

I received my PhD in Psychology (1981) from the State University of New York at Buffalo. After one year at Youngstown State University (1981-1982), and six years (1982-1988) as a research associate with the Bureau of Child Research at the University of Kansas, I joined the faculty of the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences at the University of Kansas in 1988, and have been a member of the Department of Psychology since January of 2002. My research interests are in the developmental cognitive neuroscience of attention and learning, with a special focus on early individual differences in these areas and how they relate to the typical and atypical development of cognitive and intellectual function. I conduct research in laboratories at the KU Edwards Campus and the KU Medical Center, as well as at the Wakarusa Research Facility in Lawrence.

Teaching Interests

  • Infancy
  • Cognition
  • Cognitive development
  • Developmental cognitive neuroscience

Research Interests

  • Developmental cognitive neuroscience
  • Nutrition and cognitive development
  • Attention
  • Developmental origins of health and disease
  • Autonomic function and behavior
  • Developmental systems theory
  • Developmental research design and quantitative methods
  • Individual differences in cognition in infancy and early childhood

Selected Publications

Colombo, J., D. W. Mitchell, J. T. Coldren, and J. D. Atwater. “Discrimination Learning during the First Year of Life: Stimulus and Positional Cues.” Journal Articles. Journal of Experimental Psychology: Learning, Memory, and Cognition 16 (1990): 98–109.
Colombo, J., K. McCollam, J. T. Coldren, D. W. Mitchell, and S. J. Rash. “Form Categorization in 10-Month-Old Infants.” Journal Articles. Journal of Experimental Child Psychology 49 (1990): 173–88.
Horowitz, F. D., and J. Colombo. “Future Agendas and Directions for Infancy Research.” Journal Articles. Merrill-Palmer Quarterly of Behavioral Development 36 (1990): 173–78.
Colombo, J., and D. W. Mitchell. “Individual and Developmental Differences in Infant Visual Attention: Fixation Time and Information Processing.” Book Chapters. In Individual Differences in Infancy: Reliability, Stability, and Prediction, 193–227. Hillsdale, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum, 1990.
Individual Differences in Infancy: Reliability, Stability, and Prediction. Books. Hillsdale, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum and Associates, 1990.
Infancy Research: A Summative Look and Directions for the Future. Books. Detroit, MI: Wayne State University Press, 1990.
Bundy, R. S., J. Colombo, and P. Warnick-Yarmel. “Association Learning and Pitch Perception.” Journal Articles. Bulletin of the Psychonomic Society 27 (1989): 234–36.
Zheng, S. -Y., and J. Colombo. “Gender Differences, Family Configuration, and Preschool Social Participation.” Journal Articles. Journal of Genetic Psychology 150 (1989): 45–50.
Colombo, J., D. W. Mitchell, J. D. Dodd, J. T. Coldren, and F. D. Horowitz. “Longitudinal Correlates of Infant Attention in the Paired Comparison Paradigm.” Journal Articles. Intelligence 13 (1989): 33–42.
Colombo, J., M. M. Moss, and F. D. Horowitz. “Neonatal State Profiles: Reliability and Short-Term Prediction of Neurobehavioral Status.” Journal Articles. Child Development 60 (1989): 1102–10.
Colombo, J., and F. D. Horowitz. “Behavioral State as a Lead Variable in Neonatal Research.” Book Chapters. In Annual Progress in Child Psychiatry and Child Development, 128–41. New York: Basic Books, 1988.
Colombo, J., D. W. Mitchell, and F. D. Horowitz. “Infant Visual Behavior in the Paired-Comparison Paradigm: Test-Retest and Attention-Performance Relations.” Journal Articles. Child Development 59 (1988): 1198–1210.
Colombo, J., and D. W. Mitchell. “Infant Visual Habituation: In Defense of an Information-Processing Analysis.” Journal Articles. European Bulletin of Cognitive Psychology/Cahiers de Psychologie Cognitive 8 (1988): 455–61.
Moss, M. M., J. Colombo, D. W. Mitchell, and F. D. Horowitz. “Neonatal Behavioral Organization and 3-Month Visual Discrimination.” Journal Articles. Child Development 59 (1988): 1211–20.
Zheng, S. -Y., J. Colombo, and F. D. Horowitz. “Psychological Development of the Only Child: Implications for the Chinese Single-Child Policy.” Journal Articles. Journal of Practical Pediatrics 5 (1988): 271–72.
Colombo, J., M. O’Brien, D. W. Mitchell, K. P. Roberts, and F. D. Horowitz. “A Lower Boundary for Visual Categorization in Preverbal Infants.” Journal Articles. Journal of Child Language 14 (1987): 383–85.
Colombo, J., and F. D. Horowitz. “Behavioral State as a Lead Variable in Neonatal Research.” Journal Articles. Merrill-Palmer Quarterly of Behavioral Development 33 (1987): 423–38.
Colombo, J., D. W. Mitchell, M. O’Brien, and F. D. Horowitz. “Stimulus and Motoric Influences on Visual Habituation at Three Months.” Journal Articles. Infant Behavior and Development 10 (1987): 173–81.
Colombo, J., and F. D. Horowitz. “Infants’ Attentional Responses to Frequency Modulated Sweeps.” Journal Articles. Child Development 57 (1986): 287–91.
Colombo, J. “Recent Studies in Early Auditory Development.” Book Chapters. In Annals of Child Development, 3:53–98. Greenwich, Connecticut: JAI Press, 1986.
Colombo, J., M. O’Brien, D. W. Mitchell, and F. D. Horowitz. “Stimulus Salience and Relational Processing.” Journal Articles. Infant Behavior and Development 9 (1986): 377–80.
Colombo, J., and F. D. Horowitz. “A Parametric Study of the Infant Control Procedure.” Journal Articles. Infant Behavior and Development 8 (1985): 117–21.
Colombo, J. “Infant Attention to Spectral Complexity.” Journal Articles. Journal of Genetic Psychology 146 (1985): 519–22.
Colombo, J., C. A. Laurie, T. A. Martelli, and B. R. Hartig. “Stimulus Context and Infant Orientation Discrimination.” Journal Articles. Journal of Experimental Child Psychology 37 (1984): 576–86.
Colombo, J., and R. S. Bundy. “Infant Response to Auditory Familiarity and Novelty.” Journal Articles. Infant Behavior and Development 6 (1983): 305–11.
Colombo, J. “The Critical Period Concept: Research, Methodology, and Conceptual Issues.” Journal Articles. Psychological Bulletin 92 (1982): 260–75.
Colombo, J., and R. S. Bundy. “A Method for the Measurement of Infant Auditory Selectivity.” Journal Articles. Infant Behavior and Development 4 (1981): 229–31.
Meacham, J. A., and J. Colombo. “External Cues Facilitate Prospective Remembering in 5- and 7-Year-Olds.” Journal Articles. Journal of Educational Research 3 (1979): 299–301.

Selected Grants

Kansas Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities Research Center. National Institutes of Health. $5400000.00. Submitted 2/17/2016 (9/1/2016 - 8/31/2021). Federal. Status: Funded
Prenatal DHA & Neurofunctional Development. R01 HD086001. National Institutes of Health. $3774865.00. (3/1/2016 - 2/27/2021). Federal. Status: Funded
The Cork Nutrition and Microbiome Maternal-Infant Cohort Study. Mead Johnson Nutrition. $304259.00. (1/1/2015 - 12/31/2020). For Profit (company/corporation). Status: Funded
Visual attention, joint attention, and emergent language in infancy. K99HD07588. National Institutes of Health (National Institute of Child Health and Human Development). $392850.00. Submitted 1/1/2013 (7/1/2013 - 7/31/2018). Federal. Status: Funded
DHA supplementation and pregnancy outcome. Eunice Shriver National Institute for Child Health and Human Development. $2858697.00. Submitted 10/1/2011 (7/1/2012 - 7/31/2017). DESCRIPTION (provided by applicant): This application seeks to renew project R01 HD047315, which supported the conduct of a randomized clinical trial of a high level of supplementation of docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) during the prenatal period (ClinicalTrials.gov ID: NCT00266825). We achieved the enrollment and follow-up goals of the original RCT and, most importantly for the current proposal, we have retained the planned large cohort of children born to women enrolled in the parent trial. Infants enrolled and followed to 18 months of age in this trial are now entering a particularly important period of cognitive and intellectual development, and the successful retention of the current sample allows for an unprecedented opportunity to determine if prenatal supplementation of DHA affects preschool and school-age outcomes that predict successful school performance and adaptive behaviors. The different skills that emerge at these ages build on early components of cognition, which have been positively associated with higher DHA status in both observational studies and clinical trials. We propose to test these infants on a semi-annual basis from 24 through 72 months of age employing outcomes that assess four domains of development that are critical to health, adjustment, and well-being through adulthood: (a) higher-order cognition (memory, attention, and executive function), (b) language processing and preliteracy skills, (c) adaptive regulation (self-regulation skills related to behavioral problems, school performance, and child psychopathology), and (d) intelligence. The proposed assessments will allow us to determine whether prenatal nutritional supplementation with DHA affects child health and development. The findings could contribute to evidence-based policy on prenatal nutrition. In addition, the evidence from this renewal would address hypotheses concerning fetal programming and human behavior that are currently at the forefront within the field of health, development and nutrition. Federal. Status: Funded
Kansas Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities Research Center. P30HD02528-45. National Institutes of Health (Eunice Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development). $8109647.00. Submitted 3/1/2012 (7/1/2012 - 7/31/2017). DESCRIPTION (provided by applicant): Core Support for five years is requested for the competitive renewal of the Kansas Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities Research Center (KIDDRC). The KIDDRC, now in its 44th year, has played a major international role in generating highly effective biobehavioral interventions aimed at the causes, prevention, and treatment of intellectual and developmental disabilities and related secondary conditions, and in delineating basic knowledge of the underlying biology of typical and atypical development. Since its inception, the Center has supported a balanced portfolio of behavioral, biological, and biobehavioral research. Building on its rich history, a unique contribution of the Center in the future will be the development of biologically-informed interventions and treatments. The mission of the KIDDRC is to support high quality basic and applied research relevant to the causes and prevention of intellectual and developmental disabilities and the prevention and remediation of associated secondary conditions. To achieve this mission, the KIDDRC is designed to accomplish three objectives. First, to develop and support new interdisciplinary basic and applied research initiatives directly relevant to the Center's mission, bringing together scientists across the Kansas Center as well as promoting collaborative ventures with researchers at other institutions. Second, to provide cost-effective, scientifically generative, state of the art core services, resources, and facilities that directly enhance the quality and impact of science produced by center investigators and their collaborators. Third, to provide highly efficient, cost-effective systems for planning, developing, managing, coordinating, and disseminating research activities associated with the center. The KIDDRC's research program is organized around four integrated thematic areas that each reflects a topic of central importance to IDD, comports with our scientific directions, and draws upon our research strengths. These themes are: 1) language, communication, and cognition of IDD; 2) risk, prevention, and intervention in IDD; 3) neurobiology of IDD; 4) cellular and molecular biology of early development. To coordinate and support the research activities of the 84 investigators and co-investigators and 88 research projects associated with these themes, four core units are proposed: a) Communication and Administration; b) Biobehavioral Measurement; c) Research Design and Analysis; d) Integrative Imaging.. Federal. Status: Funded
Nutritive effects of prebiotics on early postnatal behavioral measures of tolerance. Mead Johnson Nutrition. $243743.00. (1/15/2014 - 8/31/2016). For Profit (company/corporation). Status: Funded
The Kansas Center for Autism Research and Training: Phase II Expansion. Strategic Initiative Grants: Level I. $750000.00. (1/1/2012 - 12/31/2016). Research Investment Council grant to support a start-up package for a senior/mid-career hire in the area of neurocognitive mechanisms in autism. University (KU or KUMC). Status: Funded
University of Kansas Center for Behavioral Neuroscience in Communicative Disorders. DC005803. National Institute of Communicative Disorders and Stroke. $2158851.00. (1/1/2008 - 12/31/2013). Federal. Status: Funded
Effect of Low Glycemic-Index Beverages on Toddler Cognition. Mead Johnson Nutrition. $193575.00. (1/1/2011 - 12/31/2012). For Profit (company/corporation). Status: Funded
Postdoctoral training in translational research on intellectual and developmental disabilities. T32HD007525. National Institutes of Health: Eunice Shriver National Child Health and Human Development. $1059652.00. (1/1/2007 - 12/31/2012). Federal. Status: Funded
Training researchers in language impairments. T32DC000052. National Institute of Communicative Disorders and Stroke. $1137645.00. (1/1/2007 - 12/31/2012). Federal. Status: Funded. Training Faculty: Susan Kemper, Hugh Catts, John Colombo, Steven Warren
DHA supplementation and pregnancy outcome. HD047315. National Institutes of Health (National Institute of Child Health and Human Development). $917821.00. (1/1/2006 - 12/31/2011). Federal. Status: Funded. Total costs: $2,065,987
Kansas Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities Research Center. P30HD02528. National Institutes of Health (Eunice Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development). $3840552.00. (1/1/2008 - 12/31/2011). Federal. Status: Funded. Total costs for Years 42-45: $3,840,552
Pupil size and circadian salivary variations in Autism Spectrum Disorder. R03 MH084061-01. National Institute of Mental Health. $139636.00. (1/1/2009 - 12/31/2011). Federal. Status: Funded
The effects of DHA on fetal heart rate and development. R21 HD059019. National Institutes of Health: Eunice Shriver National Institute for Child Health and Human Development. $275000.00. (1/1/2009 - 12/31/2011). Federal. Status: Funded
Neural synchrony and the induction of attention in human infants. University of Kansas General Research Fund Grant. $13400.00. (1/1/2009 - 12/31/2010). University (KU or KUMC). Status: Funded
Executive Functions of the Frontal Lobes and DHA: Proposed Follow-Up of Current Kansas City Mead Johnson Nutritionals Study Participants. Mead Johnson Nutritionals. $279814.00. (1/1/2008 - 12/31/2009). For Profit (company/corporation). Status: Funded
Pupillary Responses and Neural Activation to Face and Non-Face Pictures in Children with ASD. University of Kansas Center for Autism Research and Training (Life Span Institute). $39977.00. (1/1/2008 - 12/31/2009). University (KU or KUMC). Status: Funded
Zinc and biobehavioral development in early childhood. HD045430. National Institutes of Health (National Institute of Child Health and Human Development). $324646.00. (1/1/2004 - 12/31/2009). Federal. Status: Funded. Total costs: $1,863,577
Alpha-amylase levels and psychophysiological arousal in autism. University of Kansas General Research Fund Grant. $10327.00. (1/1/2007 - 12/31/2008). University (KU or KUMC). Status: Funded
Clinical trials and maternal-infant outcomes workshop: Satellite to ISSFAL 2008. Mead Johnson Nutritionals. $6500.00. (12/31/2008). For Profit (company/corporation). Status: Funded
Supplemental Scholarship. The Graduate School, University of Kansas. Submitted for and awarded to the Department of Psychology. $12000.00. (1/1/2006 - 12/31/2008). University (KU or KUMC). Status: Funded
Learning from dynamic visual displays. NSF 0521860. National Science Foundation Science of Learning Center Catalyst Grant. $199941.00. (1/1/2005 - 12/31/2007). Federal. Status: Funded
The effects of infant formula supplemented with long chain polyunsaturated fatty acids on visual and cognitive development in term infants. MJN 3370-4. Mead Johnson Nutritionals, Inc. (Research Division). $715000.00. (1/1/2006 - 12/31/2007). For Profit (company/corporation). Status: Funded. Continuation
University of Kansas Center for Behavioral Neuroscience in Communicative Disorders. DC005803. National Institute of Communicative Disorders and Stroke. $1710000.00. (1/1/2002 - 12/31/2007). Federal. Status: Funded
Conference on the assessment of cognition and language in infancy and early childhood. Supported by the University of Kansas Merrill Advanced Study Center, the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, and the National Science Foundation. $40000.00. (1/1/2004 - 12/31/2005). Federal. Status: Funded
Perception and processing of time in infancy. National Science Foundation Grant (NSF 0318072). $190214.00. (1/1/2003 - 12/31/2005). Federal. Status: Funded
The Effects Of Infant Formula Supplemented With Long Chain Polyunsaturated Fatty Acids On Visual And Cognitive Development In Term Infants. MJN 3370-4. Mead Johnson Nutritionals, Inc. (Research Division). $600000.00. (1/1/2003 - 12/31/2005). For Profit (company/corporation). Status: Funded
Birth DHA status: Sources and effects on attention. University of Kansas Medical Center Research Institute Clinical Pilot Research Project. $25000.00. (1/1/2000 - 12/31/2003). University (KU or KUMC). Status: Funded
Infant visual attention and preschool cognitive outcome. HD35903. National Institutes of Health (National Institute of Child Health and Human Development). $741876.00. (1/1/1998 - 12/31/2003). Federal. Status: Funded
The effect of consuming docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) -enriched eggs during the last trimester of pregnancy on infant attention development. OMT-2000-02. OmegaTech, Inc/Martek Biosciences. $302919.00. (1/1/2001 - 12/31/2003). Federal. Status: Funded
Integrating Digital Video Clips into Child Development Courses. University of Kansas ΓÇ£Quest for the BestΓÇ¥ Competition, Instructional Development Services. $5000.00. (1/1/1999 - 12/31/2000). University (KU or KUMC). Status: Funded
Individual differences in infant visual processing: A test of three hypotheses. University of Kansas General Research Fund Grant. $7000.00. (1/1/1997 - 12/31/1998). University (KU or KUMC). Status: Funded
Individual differences in infant visual processing. HD29960. National Institutes of Health (National Institute of Child Health and Development). $362024.00. (1/1/1993 - 12/31/1997). Federal. Status: Funded
Infants' processing of degraded visual targets: Effects of locus and type of deletion. University of Kansas General Research Fund Grant. $6900.00. (1/1/1992 - 12/31/1993). University (KU or KUMC). Status: Funded. $4350 of this grant was returned to the University when an NIH proposal was funded in January of 1993
A signal detection analysis of infant visual recognition memory. University of Kansas Biomedical Support Grant. $6000.00. (1/1/1990 - 12/31/1991). University (KU or KUMC). Status: Funded
State organization in high-risk neonates. #12-89. March of Dimes Birth Defects Foundation Grant. $37000.00. (1/1/1989 - 12/31/1991). Not-for-Profit (not Foundation). Status: Funded
Supplementary equipment grant. National Institute of Mental Health. $20000.00. (1/1/1990 - 12/31/1991). Federal. Status: Funded
Individual differences in infant learning: Stability and reliability of infant response in the synchronous reinforcement paradigm. MH43246. National Institute of Mental Health. $37500.00. (1/1/1989 - 12/31/1990). Federal. Status: Funded
Reversal and nonreversal shifts in infant learning. 88-4787. University of Kansas Biomedical Support Grant. $5500.00. (1/1/1988 - 12/31/1989). University (KU or KUMC). Status: Funded
Infant acquisition and retention of a visual-auditory contingency. 86-4480. University of Kansas Biomedical Support Grant. $5800.00. (1/1/1987 - 12/31/1988). University (KU or KUMC). Status: Funded
Individual differences in infant visual habituation. MH41395. National Institute of Mental Health. $22500.00. (1/1/1986 - 12/31/1987). Federal. Status: Funded
Acquisition/performance relationships in infancy. 85-4309. University of Kansas Biomedical Support Grant. $6000.00. (1/1/1985 - 12/31/1986). University (KU or KUMC). Status: Funded
Auditory preference in infants. MH14368. National Institute of Mental Health. $22500.00. (1/1/1981 - 12/31/1982). Federal. Status: Funded

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