Invited Symposium

Invited Symposium

Windows into Language:  Benefits and Challenges of Combining Methods

Thursday, August 22, 2019, 1:45 – 3:30 pm, Finlandia Hall

This symposium brings together researchers each studying language using multiple different methods and from different methodological perspectives. Presentations will be followed by panel discussion of what we have learned thus far by combining methods and what challenges remains outstanding.


Evelina (Ev) Fedorenko, PhD

Associate Professor, MIT

Ev Fedorenko is a cognitive neuroscientist who specializes in the study of the human language system. She received her Bachelor’s degree in Psychology and Linguistics from Harvard University in 2002. She then proceeded to pursue graduate studies in cognitive science and neuroscience at MIT. After receiving her Ph.D. in 2007, she was awarded a K99R00 career development award from NICHD and stayed on as a postdoctoral researcher and then a research scientist at MIT. In 2014, she joined the faculty at HMS/MGH. Fedorenko aims to understand the computations we perform and the representations we build during language processing, and to provide a detailed characterization of the brain regions underlying these computations and representations. She uses an array of methods, including fMRI, ERPs, MEG, intracranial recordings and stimulation, and tools from Natural Language Processing, and works with diverse populations, including healthy children and adults, as well as individuals with developmental and acquired brain disorders.

Riitta Salmelin, PhD

Aalto University, Finland

Riitta Salmelin is Professor of Imaging Neuroscience at the Department of Neuroscience and Biomedical Engineering, Aalto University. Her research focuses on two complementary lines of investigation: uncovering neural organization of human language function by use and development of imaging methods and computational modelling, and examining sensitivity of MEG and fMRI activation and network measures to different neural and cognitive processes. She has pioneered the use of MEG in language research, and applied multimodal MEG/fMRI and interareal connectivity in the study of human cognition. She is the senior editor of the first handbook on MEG (“MEG. An Introduction to Methods”, Oxford University Press, 2010) and Associate Editor of Human Brain Mapping. Honours include membership of the Academia Europaea, Wiley Young Investigator Award by the Organization for Human Brain Mapping, and the Justine and Yves Sergent Award.

Kate Watkins, PhD

Professor of Cognitive Neuroscience
University of Oxford

Kate Watkins is a Cognitive Neuroscientist in the Department of Experimental Psychology at the University of Oxford.  She is a Fellow of St. Anne’s College in Oxford, where she teaches Psychology.  Kate trained in neuropsychology and neuroimaging at the Institute of Child Health where she did her PhD studying the members of the KE family who have a mutation in FOXP2.  She did a postdoc at the Montreal Neurological Institute with Tomas Paus where she learned to use non-invasive brain stimulation to study the motor system in speech perception.  Kate returned to the UK, to Oxford, working at the FMRIB Centre initially and then in Experimental Psychology where she established the Speech and Brain Research Group.  The group uses brain imaging and brain stimulation to study children and adults with and without disorders affecting speech and language.  Current studies in the lab involve using brain stimulation to enhance fluency in people who stutter, brain imaging of children with developmental language disorder, brain stimulation to interfere with or enhance speech motor learning, and using imaging to map the laryngeal motor cortex.  Kate has also looked at plasticity for auditory and language functions in people who are congenitally blind.