Age-related Changes in Speech Recognition

The ability to follow conversation becomes more difficult as we get older. We may have difficulty hearing speech or maintaining our focus on what people are talking about. Our laboratory uses brain imaging techniques to examine structural and functional reasons for speech recognition difficulty. We are developing studies to determine the extent to which age-related changes in brain morphology predict the success in intervention programs for hearing loss and explain why so few older adults benefit from the use of hearing aids.

Methods for Multi-site Studies and Missingness

Integrating data from existing sources has the great potential to speed the identification of endophenotypes and their neurogenetic origins for complex behavioral disorders, develop biomarkers for tracking disease and treatment efficacy, and evaluate treatment effects. We are developing methods to address the challenges of integrating data (confidentiality, heterogeneity, appropriate statistical modeling).  We also are developing methods to deal with missing data in multi-site studies, but also for functional neuroimaging studies for which multiple imputation can recover a significant amount of partial missing data that occurs across functional imaging data sets.  The figure to the right, for example, shows an increased the in extent of significant effects with multiple imputation (red and yellow areas are where multiple imputation increased the extent of the blue and green effects present prior to multiple imputation.).

Locus Coeruleus Attention System

The locus coeruleus is a brainstem structure that plays an important role in focusing attention and redirecting attention. We are utilizing high resolution brainstem imaging to characterize the structure and function of the locus coeruleus noradrenergic attention system.

Anatomical Foundations for Learning Disabilities

Dyslexia, dyscalculia, or dysgraphia can limit a child’s academic success and social development.  We are using structural imaging methods to characterize the anatomical profiles of children with learning disabilities in order to provide parents with greater understanding for why their child may have a learning disability, to identify targets for understanding the mechanisms of development, and to help target therapies that leverage normally developing neural systems in the remediation of affected systems.