Department of Psychology
The University of Houston
126 Heyne Building
Houston, TX 77204-5022
PEOPLE IN THE LABORATORY FOR THE NEURAL BASES OF BILINGUALISM
"If I had to live my life again I
would have made a rule to read some poetry and listen to some music at
least once a week for perhaps the parts of my brain now atrophied could
thus have been kept active through use."
Our backbone is our people.
Dr. Hernandez is an Associate Professor in the Department of Psychology and Director of the Developmental Psychology program.
His major research interest is in the neural underpinnings of bilingual language processing and second language acquisition.
He uses both behavioral and neuroimaging methods to investigate these issues
Pilar Archila, Ph.D.
My research interests lie in the cognitive and neural processing of a second language; from grammar to semantics and phonetics. I have used behavioral measures in the past to investigate nonnative speech perception in Spanish-English bilinguals and I am currently investigating this phenomenon using fMRI. My short-term goals are to develop experiments that allow me to learn more about brain function in bilinguals and publish articles. My long-term goal is to continue learning by working at a research University.
Noemí Aznar-Besé, M.A.
Noemi graduated from Westfield State College in Massachusetts earning a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology. Prior to joining the LNBB she worked in school settings teaching ESL and Spanish for foreigners in both the US and Spain and was always interested in language learning and bilingualism. Her Master’s Thesis explored how contextual constraint modulates neural responses during sentence reading. She was also involved in several other projects including a study entitled “Thought and Talked: an fMRI study of past-tense generation in Spanish/English bilinguals”, and a study of the neural correlates of word reading in Spanish-English bilingual children.
Lindsay Carr, Ph.D.
Lindsay earned her Bachelor's degree at Scripps College in Claremont, CA, where she first became interested in Neuropsychology.
While working in the LNBB Lindsay received the 2005 Cognitive Neuroscience Society's Graduate Students Present award for her research on gender and number agreement in Spanish. Upon completion of her dissertation regarding Spanish and English speaking children with Spina Bifida, Lindsay accepted a clinical psychology post-doctorate position at Yale University.
Kelly King, Ph.D. Candidate
Kelly joined the LNBB in her first year of graduate training. She since completed her thesis studying the neural correlates of early word learning in adult monolinguals.
Kelly is currently completing her University of Houston doctoral training in clinical psychology and is on internship at the University of Minnesota Medical School.
Dr. Kushalnagar joined the LNBB during the fourth year of her graduate studies and completed her Ph.D. in Developmental Cognitive Neuroscience at the University of Houston. Under mentorship of Dr. Hernandez, her dissertation study examined how age of acquisition and bilingualism influenced attention performance among deaf monolingual and bilingual users of American Sign Language and English.
Gayane Meschyan, Ph.D.
Dr. Meschyan earned her Ph.D. in Cognitive Psychology from the University of California at Santa Barbara. During her fours years as a graduate student, she pursued such research questions as what are the cognitive factors that facilitate and expedite second language (L2) learning and how does learning a L2 later in life, as opposed to earlier in life, impact the speed and accuracy of L2 reading processes.
Upon the completion of her doctoral degree, Gayane accepted a two-year NIMH National Research Service Award training grant from the Psychology Department at Carnegie Mellon University to obtain training in functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI). As a Post Doctoral Fellow at University of Houston, Gayane worked on an fMRI study that investigated the differences in the neural activation patterns of bilingual Spanish/English adults when reading in both languages.
Peter Molfese, Ph.D.
Peter graduated from DePauw University in 2003 with a Bachelor of Arts in Computer Science and Psychology. He received a Master of Arts from the University of Louisville in Psychology in 2005 and worked for the Yale Child Study Center as a pre-doctoral fellow from January 2006 until coming to graduate school at the University of Houston in August 2006.
His graduate work at the University of Houston focused on the study of learning and language in children using both Event-Related Potentials (ERPs) and Magnetoencephalography (MEG). As part of the lab, Peter assisted other students in processing fMRI data using SPM2 and SPM8 and wrote programs to automate the analyses of fMRI data. While a member of the lab he also learned how to use SPM, Freesurfer, and FSL for a variety of tasks, including the analysis of fMRI data, volumetric of anatomical MRI data, and diffusion tensor imaging (DTI).
After completing his doctorate Peter began a post-doctoral fellowship at the Yale Child Study Center to further combine his interests of computer science, statistics, and neuroimaging.
I have been working in the LNBB since September 2005. I have worked with Lynette, Pilar, and Beth on numerous behavioral and fMRI studies related to language processing in Spanish-English bilinguals and cognitive processing in athletes. My responsibilities have included creating stimuli, inputting data, and recruiting and running participants.
I am currently in the process of completing my Bachelor’s degree in Psychology at the University of Houston. While working in the lab I have become interested in Cognitive Neuroscience and Clinical Neuropsychology and hope to pursue these interests further in graduate school.
Amy Petesh, B.A.
After completing a Bachelor of Arts in Spanish from the University of St. Thomas, Amy worked in law for several years. During that time she became interested in pursuing a graduate degree in psychology and decided to make a career change. Amy was a research assistant in our lab assisting with the recruiting, screening, and running of subjects for fMRI language studies as well as with other office-related tasks.
Tao Sha, Ph.D.
Tao Sha was a visiting scholar to the Department of Psychology for the 2005-2006 academic year. In 1993 she obtained her Bachelor of Arts in Education from Beijing Normal University (BNU) in Beijing, China, and continued her studies there until 1998 when she received her Ph.D. in Developmental Psychology. She also worked as an associate professor at BNU and was a visiting scholar at the Laboratory for Cognitive Sciences and Language at the University of Hong Kong during the 2003-2004 academic year.
Her basic research interests are centered around bilingual language learning in Chinese-English speaking children. Specifically she is interested in the roles of different cognitive abilities in second language acquisition and the relationships between native language and second language proficiency. While working in our lab Tao was involved in two ongoing research projects investigating the role of phonological processing and cognitive processing in Chinese children learning English.
Eric Waldron, Ph.D.
Eric received his Bachelor of Arts in Psychology and Neuroscience from Lawrence University in Appleton, Wisconsin in 2002. Following graduation he worked as a research laboratory technologist in the Speech/Language Imaging Lab at the Medical College of Wisconsin.
While in the LNBB Erik used fMRI to investigate the neural correlates of past tense generation of verbs in monolingual English speakers and Spanish-English bilinguals. More broadly he is interested in neural plasticity in clinical populations.
After completing his fourth year in the Neuropsychology track of the Clinical Psychology Program at the University of Houston, Eric accepted an internship in Clinical Neuropsychology at the Semel Institute for Neuroscience and Human Behavior at UCLA.