The Society for the Neurobiology of Language is pleased to announce the 2017 Early Career Award winners: Carolyn McGettigan and Jason Yeatman.

Thursday, November 9, 11:15 am – 12:00 pm
Chesapeake Ballroom

Carolyn McGettigan

Department of Psychology
Royal Holloway, University of London

Chair: Jonathan Peelle

Carolyn McGettigan started her career at Cambridge where she gained a first class honours degree in Natural Sciences in 2003 followed by a PhD from UCL in 2007. She then completed postdoctoral work in London and Leipzig before taking up a lectureship in 2012 at Royal Holloway, University of London, where she was promoted to Professor in 2017. Dr. McGettigan’s early research investigated the comprehension of degraded speech, and the wider role of the human voice in communication (including the perception of laughter, and the modulation of identity in speech production). Her current research focuses on the neurobiology of the human voice as a highly complex and flexible social signal, with which listeners can convey and perceive linguistic, emotional and indexical information. Dr. McGettigan has published 44 articles and chapters with an H index of 13 (WoS), and has won a number of awards, attesting to her cutting-edge research in the neurobiology of language. Moreover, she has an exceptional record as a science communicator and in public engagement.

Studying the Social Life of Voices

While it is readily accepted that the human face is a social stimulus, the wider cognitive neuroscience community tends to see the voice as a medium for language. In this talk, I will describe how my research programme attempts to forefront the para-linguistic and non-verbal roles of the voice, both in its production and perception. This will include examples from my recent studies of vocal flexibility in speech production, in which we have used functional MRI and vocal tract MR imaging to probe the processes of imitation. I will also describe the insights we have gained from studies of vocalizations such as laughter and crying. Throughout, I will highlight some of the people and experiences that have been most influential on my career so far.

Jason Yeatman

Assistant Professor
Institute for Learning & Brain Sciences (I-LABS)
Department of Speech & Hearing Sciences
University of Washington

Jason Yeatman received his Ph.D. in 2014 from Stanford University, and after a one-year appointment as a research scientist at the Institute for Learning and Brain Sciences at the University of Washington (UW), Seattle, Dr. Yeatman was appointed Assistant Professor in the Department of Speech and Hearing Sciences at UW. Dr. Yeatman’s research on white matter and reading development has led to novel models of the biological mechanisms that drive changes in the white matter and to a better understanding of the relationship between principles of brain development and learning to read. Additionally, he has been at the forefront of developing new MRI methods for quantifying white matter tissue properties and algorithms for analyzing these data. Three years after having received his Ph.D., he has co-authored 33 peer reviewed journal articles (10 as lead author). Dr. Yeatman has clearly distinguished himself in productivity and creativity early in his career.

White Matter Plasticity and Learning to Read

Reading instruction prompts the emergence of neural circuits that are specialized for rapidly translating printed symbols into sound and meaning. Understanding how these circuits differ in children with dyslexia, and change with learning, is an important scientific challenge that holds practical implications for education. In this talk I will present new data linking changes in the white matter to the process of learning to read. Combining intensive reading intervention programs, with longitudinal MRI measurements, we find that altering a child’s educational environment can dramatically change white matter circuits and behavior over the timescale of weeks.