Research activities of our laboratory are focused on the neurobiological basis of language skills in typical and atypical development. We are particularly interested in the mechanisms of typical and atypical literacy acquisition in children. Our investigations involve characterizing the predictors of developmental disorders, particularly language-based learning disabilities as well as testing different evidence-based interventions. Additionally we aim to uncover a universal brain organization for spoken and written language independent of orthography (contrasting orthographies differing in phoneme-grapheme transparency) or sensory modality (contrasting visual reading in sighted and tactile reading in blind). We also strive to understand the long-term consequences of late language emergence in children at both behavioral and neural level.

Another line of research refers to the issue of the relationship between consciousness/self- consciousness and language. We aimed at investigating whether conscious and unconscious processing of verbal information (in comparison to non-verbal information) is prioritized if such information is self-relevant.
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Congratulations to our collegue Agnieszka Dębska!

Dr Agnieszka Dębska from the Laboratory of Language Neurobiology was selected for the Kosciuszko Foundation Exchange Program to the United States. The 5-month research project will be held at the University of Vanderbilt, Nashville, Tennessee, under the supervision of Prof. James Booth. The project concerns the neural basis of the relation between structures responsible for orthographic and phonological processing in a longitudinal experimental design. Prof. Booth (h index = 51) and his colleagues at the Brain Development Lab in Department of Psychology and Human Development have vast research experience in understanding the neural basis of reading development. In the last decade they laid foundation for research on the neural basis of orthographic and spoken language processes. The project will broaden our understanding of the neurobiology of reading acquisition, an important academic and social skill.

Can I have your attention please: The impact of smartphone-related distractions on sustained attention in light and heavy smartphone users

Smartphones have become ubiquitous in the modern world. However, it remains vague whether and how a relation with mobile devices affects our cognitive functioning. Hence, in this study we investigated the impact of smartphone-related auditory distractions and smartphone usage on sustained attention. 31 participants were asked to perform a Continuous Performance Task in 3 separate conditions: one with a smartphone-related distractor, one with a neutral auditory distractor, and finally one without any distracting sounds. In addition to behavioral measures, electrophysiological methods were utilized in order to test in-depth effects on attentional and distractor processing. In order to examine whether smartphone usage has an effect on our attentional processing and to obtain objective usage characteristics a tracking mobile application was installed on participant’s smartphones. The results indicated that both (smartphone related and neutral) distractors had no impact on task performance. However, the participants exhibited a stronger orienting reaction towards a smartphone related distractor. Moreover, increased social media app usage appeared to change attentional target processing and prolonged the indexing of the distracting stimuli. These findings show preliminary evidence that smartphone usage might negatively influence our ability to keep attention focused on one task, as well as our capability to filter out and process smartphone-related auditory distractions. The matter of smartphone-related cognitive alterations is quite contemporary and uncharted. Because of the hasty development of technology and the fact that we are becoming more and more dependent on it, further research is necessary to help us better understand those relations and their implications.

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Looking for assistants!

We are currently looking for people who would like to work on upcoming neuroimaging and behavioral projects. If are interested please get to know the offer and apply!

Trait impulsivity associated with altered resting-state functional connectivity within the somatomotor network Nov. 18, 2020, 2:30 p.m. - Aleksandra Herman, PhD - LOBI

Knowledge of brain mechanisms underlying self-regulation can provide valuable insights into how people regulate their thoughts, behaviours, and emotional states, and what happens when such regulation fails. Self-regulation is supported by coordinated interactions of brain systems. Hence, behavioural dysregulation, and its expression as impulsivity, can be usefully characterised using functional connectivity methodologies applied to resting brain networks. I am going to present the results from the study testing whether individual differences in trait impulsivity are reflected in the functional architecture within and between resting-state brain networks. Thirty healthy individuals completed a self-report measure of trait impulsivity and underwent resting-state functional magnetic resonance imaging. We identified across participants ten networks of regions (resting-state networks) with temporally correlated time courses. We then explored how individual expression of these spatial networks covaried with trait impulsivity. Across participants, we observed that greater self-reported impulsivity was associated with decreased connectivity of the right lateral occipital cortex with the somatomotor network. No supratheshold differences were observed in between-network connectivity. Our findings implicate the somatomotor network, and its interaction with sensory cortices, in the control of (self-reported) impulsivity. The observed 'decoupling' may compromise effective integration of early perceptual information (from visual and somatosensory cortices) with behavioural control programmes, potentially resulting in negative consequences.

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