The National Institute of Science and Technology on Behavior, Cognition and Teaching (INCT-ECCE) has its origin in a research program that was created 15 years ago by a group of researchers from different Brazilian institutions (Universidade Federal de São Carlos, Universidade de São Paulo, Universidade Estadual Paulista Julio de Mesquita Filho, Universidade de Brasília and Universidade Federal do Pará), and in collaboration with a U.S. research center (Eunice Kennedy Shriver Center for Mental Retardation – Massachusetts, EUA).
Two successful research projects received funding from PRONEX, a program created by the Ministry of Science and Technology in Brazil, to fund high-quality research (1998-2003; 2004-2007), and these two projects were the starting point for a research group on Behavior, Cognition and Teaching (ECCE), and later for our Institute. The main goals of this group were: a) basic research on complex behavior and cognition and b) the application of research evidence on the development of teaching procedures for children with learning disabilities, individuals with cognitive disabilities and illiterate adults.
ECCE gradually became a larger group, with more researchers developing integrated research actions, capacitating students and transferring knowledge that is socially relevant.
The PRONEX support allowed ECCE to consolidate an articulation of research efforts from its members and to create a network of researchers from different institutions. In 2008, new funding was granted from the Ministry of Science and Technology (via CNPq- National Council for Scientific and Technological Development and in collaboration with state funding agencies) for National Institutes of Science and Technology (INCTs). INCT-ECCE was one of them. The institute’s project aimed at expanding research activities and at including young academics from other states and regions (e.g., Universidade Federal de Minas Gerais and Universidade Estadual de Ciências da Saúde de Alagoas). The main goal was to integrate researchers with skills and knowledge that could add to the research group, and with a greater network, it would be possible to work with a broader and more diverse group of children with delays in symbolic functioning, as well as with children with congenital or acquired neurological disorders
INCT-ECCE’s research program, so called “Relational learning and symbolic functioning: Basic and Applied Research” has three major work fronts: (1) Basic Research aimed at producing new evidence and developing useful methods for a better understanding of, prevention and treatment of symbolic functioning deficits; (2) Translational Research that can successfully validate new principles and/or new procedures based on previous basic/ clinical/ educational studies, in quasi-controlled conditions; (3) Applied Research that can generate feasible and effective solutions in terms of cost/benefits for the challenges involved in the broad dissemination of therapeutic and educational procedures based on scientific evidence of its effectiveness in traditional service institutions (e.g., schools, hospitals, clinics, etc.).
Research conducted by INCT-ECCE members contributes to a better understanding of relational learning and symbolic functioning, and to the development of instructional/educational technology that is relevant to promoting symbolic behaviors and to rehabilitation in children and adults with symbolic delays or deficits. Our findings can also contribute to public policies related to problems in human communication, including language acquisition, reading and writing.