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The Communicating Brain

How does the brain support our unique human ability to communicate, and how do we study the communicating brain? Students in the module explore these questions through foundational courses, research talks and activities, and a module course that covers neuroscience techniques and includes hands-on experience running an EEG study.

Sponsoring Department(s): Communication Sciences and Disorders

Module Coordinator (main student contacts): Elizabeth Norton, PhD
Committee of Instruction: Nina Kraus, PhD, Charles Larson, PhD, Tina Grieco-Calub, PhD

Module Advisor: Jeanette Ortiz

This module provides students with an understanding of the current knowledge on how the human brain gives rise to communication, with a focus on the state-of-the-art methods used to study questions related to the neural basis of typical and atypical communication. Across module activities, emphasis will be placed on practical use of current methods for studying the brain and their translational clinical potential, with the goal of providing a strong foundation for students pursuing medical or clinical professions (audiologist, physician, speech-language pathologist) or further study and research in neuroscience or communication sciences and disorders. A new seminar course designed for the module is required, which involves in-depth study of various human cognitive neuroscience tools and an experiential learning opportunity, as students work as a team to design, execute, and analyze their own cognitive neuroscience experiment. In sum, this module will provide students the opportunity to gain a deep appreciation for the tools we use to study the brain and how it gives rise to typical and atypical communication abilities.

Learning Objectives:

Students will

  • identify the brain regions, networks, and processes that support typical speech, language, and hearing abilities in humans.
  • explain similarities and differences between functional and structural neural basis of communication in atypical populations and across development
  • appraise the utility of various methods for studying the neural basis of human communication for different questions and populations.
  • assess and critique the questions, hypotheses, methods, and results from primary research articles related to the neural basis of human communication.
  • interpret the clinical and translational implications of findings from human cognitive neuroscience research.
  • experience hands-on research in both the module course and in a faculty-led research lab.