John Colombo, PhD

Professor
Director, Life Span Institute
Primary office:
785-864-4295
1053 Dole Human Development Center
Second office:
785-864-4295



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

Carlson, S. E, Colombo, J., & Cheatham, C. L (in press). Long chain fatty acids in the developing brain. In D. F Anderson, R. A Polin, W. W Fox, & . (Eds.), Fetal and Neonatal Physiology(5thth ed.). New York: Elseview.

Hidaka, B. H, Kerling, E. H, Thodosoff, J. M, Colombo, J., Sullivan, D. K, & Carlson, S. E (2016). Dietary Patterns of Early Childhood and Maternal Socioeconomic Status in a Unique Prospective Sample from a Randomized Controlled Trial of Prenatal DHA Supplementation. BMC Pediatrics, 16, 191. DOI:10.1186/s12887-016-0729-0

Carlson, S. E., & Colombo, J. (2016). Docosahexaenoic acid and arachidonic acid nutrition in early development. Advances in Pediatrics, 63, 453-471. DOI:10.1016/j.yapd.2016.04.011

Shireman, T. I., Kerling, E. H., Gajewski, B. J., Colombo, J., & Carlson, S. E. (2016). Docosahexaenoic acid supplementation (DHA) and the return on investment for pregnancy outcomes. Prostaglandins, Leukotreines, and Essential Fatty Acids, 111, 8-10. DOI://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.plefa.2016.05.008

Liao, K., McCandliss, B., Carlson, S. E, Colombo, J., Shaddy, D. Jill, Kerling, E., Lepping, R., Cheatham, C. L, & Gustafson, K. M (2016). Event related potential differences in children supplemented with long-chain polyunsaturated fatty acids during infancy. Developmental Science. DOI:10.1111/desc.12455

Yelland, L. N, Gajewski, B. J, Colombo, J., Gibson, R. A, Makrides, M., & Carlson, S. E (2016). Predicting the effect of maternal DHA supplementation to reduce early preterm birth in Australia and the United States using results of within-country randomized controlled trials. Prostaglandins, Leukotreines, and Essential Fatty Acids, 112, 44-49. DOI://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.plefa.2016.08.007

Colombo, J., Gustafson, K. M., Gajewski, B. J., Shaddy, D. Jill, Kerling, E. H., Thodosoff, J., Brez, C. C., Doty, T. D., & Carlson, S. E. (2016). Prenatal DHA supplementation and infant attention. Pediatric Research, 80, 656-662. DOI:10.1038/pr.2016.134

Gajewski, B. J, Reese, C. Shane, Colombo, J., & Carlson, S. E (2016). Commensurate priors on a finite mixture model for incorporating repository data in clinical trials. Statistics in Biopharmaceutical Research, epub ahead of print. DOI:10.1080/19466315.2015.1133453

Salley, B., & Colombo, J. (2015). Conceptualizing social attention in developmental research. Social Development, 25(4), 687-703. DOI: 10.1111/sode.12174

Foiles, A., Kerling, E., Wick, J., Scalabrin, D., Colombo, J., & Carlson, S. E. (2015). Formula with long chain polyunsaturated fatty acids reduces incidence of allergy in infancy and early childhood. Pediatric Allergy and Immunology. DOI:10.1111/pai.12515

Colombo, J., & Salley, B. J (2015). The development of attention in infancy: A biopsychosocial perspective. (pp. 71-96). New York: Guilford Press.

Scholtz, S. A, Kerling, E. H, Shaddy, D. Jill, Thodosoff, J. M, Colombo, J., & Carlson, S. E (2015). Docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) supplementation in pregnancy differentially modulates arachidonic acid and DHA status across FADS genotypes in pregnancy. Prostaglandins, Leukotreines, and Essential Fatty Acids, 94, 29-33. DOI: 10.1016/j.plefa.2014.10.008

Gould, J., Makrides, M., Colombo, J., & Smithers, L. G (2014). A randomized controlled trial of maternal omega-3 LCPUFA supplementation during pregnancy and early childhood development of attention, working memory and inhibitory control. American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 99, 851-859. DOI:10.3945/ajcn.113.069203

Kapa, L. L., & Colombo, J. (2014). Executive function predicts artificial language learning. Journal of Memory and Language, 76, 237-252. http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.jml.2014.07.004

Ozias, M. K, Scholtz, S. A, Kerling, E. H, Christifano, D. N, Colombo, J., & Carlson, S. E (2014). Typical prenatal vitamin D supplement intake does not prevent decrease of plasma 25-hydroxyvitamin D at birth. Journal of the American College of Nutrition, 10(Oct), 1-6. DOI:10.1080/07315724.2013.879843

Colombo, J., Zavaleta, N., Kannass, K. N, Lazarte, F., Albornoz, C., Kapa, L., & Caulfield, L. E (2014). Zinc supplementation maintains neurodevelopmental changes during infancy: a randomized controlled trial in Peruvian infants 6-18 months of age. Journal of Nutrition, 144, 1298-1305. DOI: jn.113.189365

Gould, J. F, Makrides, M., Colombo, J., & Smithers, L. G (2014). Randomized controlled trial of maternal omega-3 long-chain PUFA supplementation during pregnancy and early childhood development of attention, working memory, and inhibitory control. The American journal of clinical nutrition. DOI:10.3945/ajcn.113.069203

Scholtz, S. A, Colombo, J., & Carlson, S. E (2013). Overview of dietary long-chain polyunsaturated fatty acids during the perinatal period. . In M. Makrides, J. B Ochoa, & H. Szajewska (Eds.), The importance of immunonutrition (pp. 145-154). Basel, Switzerland: S Karger. DOI: 10.1159/000351397

Carlson, S. E., Colombo, J., Gajewski, B., Gustafson, K. M., Mundy, D., Yeast, J., Georgieff, M., Markley, L., Kerling, E. H., & Shaddy, D. J. (2013). Docosahexaenoic acid supplementation and pregnancy outcomes. American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 97(4), 808-815. DOI:10.3945/ajcn.112.050021

Gustafson, K. M., Carlson, S. E., Colombo, J., Yeh, H., Shaddy, D. J., Li, S., & Kerling, E. H. (2013). Effects of docosahexaenoic acid supplementation during pregnancy on fetal heart rate and variability: A randomized clinical trial. Prostaglandins, Leukotrienes, and Essential Fatty Acids, 88(5), 331-338.

Colombo, J., Carlson, S. E., Cheatham, C. L., Shaddy, D. J., Kerling, E., Thodosoff, J., Gustafson, K. M., & Brez, C. (2013). Long-term effects of LCPUFA supplementation on childhood cognitive outcomes. American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 98(2), 403-412. DOI: 10.3945/ajcn.112.040766

Anderson, C. J., Colombo, J., & Unruh, K. E. (2013). Pupil and salivary indicators in autism spectrum disorder. Developmental Psychobiology, 55(5), 465-482. DOI:10.1002/dev.21051

Salley, B. J., Panneton, R., & Colombo, J. (2013). Separable predictors of language outcome. Infancy, 18(4), 462-489. DOI:10.1111/j.1532-7078.2012.00138.x

Caulfield, L. E, Zavaleta, N., Chen, P., Colombo, J., & Kannass, K. (2013). Mineral status of non-anemic Peruvian infants taking an iron and copper syrup with or without zinc from 6 to 18 months of age: a randomized controlled trial. Nutrition (Burbank, Los Angeles County, Calif.), 29(11-12), 1336-41. DOI:10.1016/j.nut.2013.05.023

Kapa, L. L., & Colombo, J. (2013). Attentional control in early and later bilingual children. Cognitive Development, 28(3), 233-246. DOI: dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.cogdev.2013.01.011

Bornstein, M. H., & Colombo, J. (2012). Infant cognitive functioning and mental development. (pp. 118-147). New York: Cambridge University Press.

Colombo, J., Brez, C. C., & Curtindale, L. C. (2012). Infant perception and cognition. In R. M. Lerner, M. A. Easterbrooks, J. Mistry, & I. B. Weiner (Eds.), Handbook of psychology, Volume 6: Developmental Psychology (pp. 61-89). New York: John Wiley and Sons.

Brez, C. C., Colombo, J., & Cohen, L. (2012). Infants' integration of featural and numerical information. Infant Behavior and Development, 35, 705-710. DOI:10.1016/j.infbeh.2012.07.003

Colombo, J., & Carlson, S. E. (2012). Is the measure the message? The BSID and nutritional interventions. Pediatrics, 129, 1166-1167. DOI:10.1542/peds.2012-0934

Roberts, J. E., Hatton, D. D., Bailey, D., Long, A. C. J., Anello, V., & Colombo, J. (2012). Visual attention and autistic behavior in infants with fragile X syndrome. Journal of Autism and Developmental Disabilities, 42, 937-946. DOI:10.1007/s10803-011- 1316-8

Brez, C. C., & Colombo, J. (2012). Your eyes say “no” but your heart says “yes”: Behavioral and psychophysiological indices in infant quantitative processing. Infancy, 17, 445-454. DOI:10.1111/j.1532-7078.2011.0094.x

Cheatham, C. L., Colombo, J., & Carlson, S. E. (2011). Long chain fatty acids in the developing retina and brain. In D. F. Anderson, R. A. Polin, & W. W. Fox (Eds.), Fetal and neonatal physiology(4th ed.) (Vol. 1, pp. 497-508). New York: Elsevier.

Colombo, J., Kapa, L., & Curtindale, L. (2011). Varieties of attention in infancy. In L. M. Oakes, C. H. Cashon, M. Casasola, & D. H. Rakison (Eds.), Infant perception and cognition: Recent advances, emerging theories, and future directions (pp. 3-26). New York, NY: Oxford University Press.

Colombo, J., Carlson, S. E., Cheatham, C. L., Fitzgerald-Gustafson, K. M., Kepler, A., & Doty, T. (2011). LCPUFA supplementation during infancy lowers heart rate and changes the distribution of attention. Pediatric Research, 70, 1-5. DOI:10.1203/PDR.0b013e31822a59f5

Geldhof, G. J., Little, T. D., & Colombo, J. (2010). Self-regulation across the lifespan. In R. Lerner, M. Lamb, & A. Freund (Eds.), Handbook of Lifespan Development(1st ed.) (Vol. 2, pp. 116-157). New York, NY: John Wiley. DOI:10.1002/9780470880166.hlsd002005

Kannass, K. N., Colombo, J., & Wyss, N. (2010). Now, pay attention! The effects of instruction on children’s attention. Journal of Cognition and Development, 11(4), 509-532.

Colombo, J., Shaddy, D. J., Anderson, C. J., Blaga, O. M., Gibson, L. J., & Kannass, K. N. (2010). What habituates in infant visual habituation? A psychophysiological analysis. Infancy, 15(2), 107-124. DOI:10.1111/j.1532-7078.2009.00012.x

Colombo, J., Shaddy, D. J., Blaga, O. M., Anderson, C. J., Kannass, K. N., & Richman, W. A. (2009). Attentional predictors of vocabulary from infancy. In J. Colombo, P. McCardle, & L. Freund (Eds.), Infant pathways to language: Methods, models, and research directions (pp. 143-168). New York, NY: Psychology Press/Taylor and Francis.

Colombo, J., Shaddy, D. J., Blaga, O. M., Anderson, C. J., & Kannass, K. N. (2009). High cognitive ability in infancy and early childhood. In F. D. Horowitz, R. F. Subotnik, & D. J. Matthews (Eds.), The development of giftedness and talent across the life span (pp. 23-42). Washington, DC: American Psychological Society Press.

McCardle, P., Colombo, J., & Freund, L. (2009). Measuring language in infancy. (pp. 1-12). New York, NY: Psychology Press/Taylor and Francis.

Colombo, J., McCardle, P., & Freund, L. (Eds.). (2009). Infant pathways to language: Methods, models, and research directions (J. Colombo, P. McCardle, & L. Freund, Eds.). New York, NY: Psychology Press/Taylor and Francis.

Maikranz, J. M., Colombo, J., Richman, W. A., & Frick, J. E. (2001). Autonomic indicators of sensitization and look duration in infancy. Infant Behavior and Development, 23, 137-151.

Colombo, J., Richman, W. A., Shaddy, D. J., Greenhoot, A. F., & Maikranz, J. (2001). HR- Defined phases of attention, look duration, and infant performance in the paired- comparison paradigm. Child Development, 72, 1605-1616.

Colombo, J. (2001). Recent advances in the assessment of infant cognition: Implications for LC-PUFA supplementation studies. Lipids, 36, 919-926.

Colombo, J. (2001). The development of visual attention in infancy. Annual Review of Psychology, 52, 337-367.

Colombo, J., Shaddy, D. J., & Richman, W. A. (2000). Cognition, development, and exceptional talent in infancy. In R. Friedman & B. Shore (Eds.), Talents unfolding: Cognition and development (pp. 123-148). Washington, DC: American Psychological Association.

Saxon, T. F., Colombo, J., Robinson, E. L., & Frick, J. E. (2000). Dyadic interaction profiles in infancy and preschool intelligence. Journal of School Psychology, 38, 9-25.

Frick, J. E., Colombo, J., & Allen, J. R. (2000). The temporal sequence of global-local processing in 3-month-olds. Infancy, 1, 375-386.

Colombo, J., & Frick, J. E. (1999). Recent advances and issues in the study of preverbal intelligence. In M. Anderson (Ed.), The development of intelligence (pp. 46-71). East Sussex: Psychology Press.

Frick, J. E., Colombo, J., & Saxon, T. F. (1999). Individual and developmental differences in disengagement of fixation in early infancy. Child Development, 70, 537-548.

Colombo, J., & Janowsky, J. S. (1998). A cognitive neuroscience approach to individual differences in infant cognition. In J. E. Richards (Ed.), The cognitive neuroscience of attention: A developmental perspective (pp. 363-392). Hillsdale, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum.

Stoecker, J. J., Colombo, J., Frick, J. E., & Ryther, J. S. (1998). Long- and short-looking infants' recognition of symmetrical and asymmetrical visual forms. Journal of Experimental Child Psychology, 71, 63-78.

Colombo, J. (1997). Individual differences in infant cognition: Methods, measures and models. In J. Dobbing (Ed.), Developing brain and behavior: The role of lipids in infant formulas (pp. 339-385). London: Academic Press.

Mitchell, D. W., & Colombo, J. (1997). Infant cognition and general intelligence. In W. Tomic & J. Kingma (Eds.), Advances in cognition and educational practice: Reflections on the concept of intelligence (pp. 101-119). Greenwich, CT: JAI Press.

Saxon, T. F., Frick, J. E., & Colombo, J. (1997). Individual differences in infant visual fixation and maternal interactional styles. Merrill-Palmer Quarterly of Behavioral Development, 43, 48-66.

Colombo, J., Frick, J. E., & Gorman, S. A. (1997). Sensitization during visual habituation sequences: Procedural effects and individual differences. Journal of Experimental Child Psychology, 67, 223-235.

Colombo, J., Frick, J. E., Ryther, J. S., & Gifford, J. J. (1996). Individual differences in infant visual attention: Four-month-olds' recognition of forms connoted by complementary contour. Infant Behavior and Development, 19, 113-119.

Frick, J. E., & Colombo, J. (1996). Individual differences in infant visual attention: Recognition of degraded visual forms by 4-month-olds. Child Development, 67, 188-204.

Colombo, J., Ryther, J. S., Frick, J. E., & Gifford, J. J. (1995). A visual "pop-out" effect in infants: Evidence for preattentive search in 3- and 4-month-olds. Psychonomic Bulletin and Review, 2, 266-268.

Colombo, J. (1995). Cost, utility, and the judgments of institutional review boards . Psychological Science, 6, 318-319.

Colombo, J., Freeseman, L. J., Coldren, J. T., & Frick, J. E. (1995). Individual differences in infant visual fixation: Dominance of global and local stimulus properties. Cognitive Development, 10, 271-285.

Colombo, J., Frick, J. E., Ryther, J. S., Coldren, J. T., & Mitchell, D. W. (1995). Infants' detection of analogs of "motherese" in noise. Merrill-Palmer Quarterly of Behavioral Development, 41, 104-113.

Colombo, J. (1995). On the neural mechanisms underlying developmental and individual differences in infant fixation duration: Two hypotheses. Developmental Review, 15, 97-135.

Coldren, J. T., & Colombo, J. (1994). The nature and processes of preverbal learning: Implications from nine-month-old infants' discrimination problem solving. Monographs of the Society for Research in Child Development 59(4), Whole No. 249.

Colombo, J. (1993). Infant cognition: Predicting later intellectual functioning, Newbury Park, CA: Sage Publications, Inc.

Freeseman, L. J., Colombo, J., & Coldren, J. T. (1993). Individual differences in infant visual attention: Discrimination and generalization of global and local stimulus properties. Child Development, 64, 1191-1203.

Colombo, J., Mitchell, D. W., Coldren, J. T., & Freeseman, L. J. (1991). Individual differences in infant attention: Are short lookers faster processors or feature processors? Child Development, 62, 1247-1257.

Colombo, J., & Mitchell, D. W. (1990). Individual and developmental differences in infant visual attention: Fixation time and information processing. In J. Colombo & J. W. Fagen (Eds.), Individual differences in infancy: Reliability, stability, and prediction (pp. 193-227). Hillsdale, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum.

Colombo, J. & Fagen, J. W. (Eds.). (1990). Individual differences in infancy: Reliability, stability, and prediction (J. Colombo & J. W. Fagen, Eds.). Hillsdale, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum and Associates.

Horowitz, F. D. & Colombo, J. (Eds.). (1990). Infancy research: A summative look and directions for the future (F. D. Horowitz & J. Colombo, Eds.). Detroit, MI: Wayne State University Press.

Colombo, J., Mitchell, D. W., Coldren, J. T., & Atwater, J. D. (1990). Discrimination learning during the first year of life: Stimulus and positional cues. Journal of Experimental Psychology: Learning, Memory, and Cognition, 16, 98-109.

Colombo, J., McCollam, K., Coldren, J. T., Mitchell, D. W., & Rash, S. J. (1990). Form categorization in 10-month-old infants. Journal of Experimental Child Psychology, 49, 173-188.

Horowitz, F. D., & Colombo, J. (1990). Future agendas and directions for infancy research. Merrill-Palmer Quarterly of Behavioral Development, 36, 173-178.

Bundy, R. S., Colombo, J., & Warnick-Yarmel, P. (1989). Association learning and pitch perception. Bulletin of the Psychonomic Society, 27, 234-236.

Zheng, S. -Y., & Colombo, J. (1989). Gender differences, family configuration, and preschool social participation. Journal of Genetic Psychology, 150, 45-50.

Colombo, J., Mitchell, D. W., Dodd, J. D., Coldren, J. T., & Horowitz, F. D. (1989). Longitudinal correlates of infant attention in the paired comparison paradigm. Intelligence, 13, 33-42.

Colombo, J., Moss, M. M., & Horowitz, F. D. (1989). Neonatal state profiles: Reliability and short-term prediction of neurobehavioral status. Child Development, 60, 1102-1110.

Colombo, J., & Horowitz, F. D. (1988). Behavioral state as a lead variable in neonatal research. In S. Chess, A. Thomas, & M. Hertzig (Eds.), Annual progress in child psychiatry and child development (pp. 128-141). New York: Basic Books.

Colombo, J., Mitchell, D. W., & Horowitz, F. D. (1988). Infant visual behavior in the paired-comparison paradigm: Test-retest and attention-performance relations. Child Development, 59, 1198-1210.

Colombo, J., & Mitchell, D. W. (1988). Infant visual habituation: In defense of an information-processing analysis. European Bulletin of Cognitive Psychology/Cahiers de Psychologie Cognitive, 8, 455-461.

Moss, M. M., Colombo, J., Mitchell, D. W., & Horowitz, F. D. (1988). Neonatal behavioral organization and 3-month visual discrimination. Child Development, 59, 1211-1220.

Zheng, S. -Y., Colombo, J., & Horowitz, F. D. (1988). Psychological development of the only child: Implications for the Chinese single-child policy. Journal of Practical Pediatrics, 5, 271-272.

Colombo, J., O'Brien, M., Mitchell, D. W., Roberts, K. P., & Horowitz, F. D. (1987). A lower boundary for visual categorization in preverbal infants. Journal of Child Language, 14, 383-385.

Colombo, J., & Horowitz, F. D. (1987). Behavioral state as a lead variable in neonatal research. Merrill-Palmer Quarterly of Behavioral Development, 33, 423-438.

Colombo, J., Mitchell, D. W., O'Brien, M., & Horowitz, F. D. (1987). Stability of infant visual habituation during the first year. Child Development, 58, 474-489.

Colombo, J., Mitchell, D. W., O'Brien, M., & Horowitz, F. D. (1987). Stimulus and motoric influences on visual habituation at three months. Infant Behavior and Development, 10, 173-181.

Colombo, J. (1986). Recent studies in early auditory development . In G. J. Whitehurst (Ed.), Annals of Child Development (Vol. 3, pp. 53-98). Greenwich, Connecticut: JAI Press.

Colombo, J., & Horowitz, F. D. (1986). Infants' attentional responses to frequency modulated sweeps. Child Development, 57, 287-291.

Colombo, J., O'Brien, M., Mitchell, D. W., & Horowitz, F. D. (1986). Stimulus salience and relational processing. Infant Behavior and Development, 9, 377-380.

Colombo, J., & Horowitz, F. D. (1985). A parametric study of the infant control procedure. Infant Behavior and Development, 8, 117-121.

Colombo, J. (1985). Infant attention to spectral complexity. Journal of Genetic Psychology, 146, 519-522.

Colombo, J., Laurie, C. A., Martelli, T. A., & Hartig, B. R. (1984). Stimulus context and infant orientation discrimination. Journal of Experimental Child Psychology, 37, 576-586.

Colombo, J., & Bundy, R. S. (1983). Infant response to auditory familiarity and novelty . Infant Behavior and Development, 6, 305-311.

Bundy, R. S., Colombo, J., & Singer, J. T. (1982). Pitch perception in infancy. Developmental Psychology, 18, 10-14.

Colombo, J. (1982). The critical period concept: Research, methodology, and conceptual issues. Psychological Bulletin, 92, 260-275.

Colombo, J., & Bundy, R. S. (1981). A method for the measurement of infant auditory selectivity. Infant Behavior and Development, 4, 229-231.

Meacham, J. A., & Colombo, J. (1979). External cues facilitate prospective remembering in 5- and 7-year-olds. Journal of Educational Research, 3, 299-301.


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