SAGE Journal Articles

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Journal Article 1: Luciano, M. (2017). Making Reading Easier: How Genetic Information Can Help. Policy Insights from the Behavioral and Brain Sciences, 4(2), 147-154. doi:10.1177/2372732217720464

Abstract: Reading is the cornerstone of all educational systems. Without adequate reading skills, learning in all other subject areas becomes very challenging. Children typically learn basic reading skills by age 6 or 7, but there is variation in timing of reading skill acquisition and, thereafter, in reading ability. A strong predictor of whether a child will have difficulties with reading is family history. Twin and family studies confirm that reading ability (including specific reading disorder) is substantively genetically influenced. Molecular genetic studies of reading ability have identified a number of candidate genes that are associated with reading disability and/or reading processes; many more are likely to be discovered. This review discusses implications that increased understanding of the genetic architecture of reading ability has for early identification and intervention for children at risk for reading difficulties.

Journal Article 2: Kraus, N.,& White-Schwoch, T. (2017). Neurobiology of everyday communication: What have we learned from music? Neuroscientist, 23(3), 287-298.
doi: 10.1177/1073858416653593.

Abstract: Sound is an invisible but powerful force that is central to everyday life. Studies in the neurobiology of everyday communication seek to elucidate the neural mechanisms underlying sound processing, their stability, their plasticity, and their links to language abilities and disabilities. This sound processing lies at the nexus of cognitive, sensorimotor, and reward networks. Music provides a powerful experimental model to understand these biological foundations of communication, especially with regard to auditory learning. We review studies of music training that employ a biological approach to reveal the integrity of sound processing in the brain, the bearing these mechanisms have on everyday communication, and how these processes are shaped by experience. Together, these experiments illustrate that music works in synergistic partnerships with language skills and the ability to make sense of speech in complex, everyday listening environments. The active, repeated engagement with sound demanded by music making augments the neural processing of speech, eventually cascading to listening and language. This generalization from music to everyday communications illustrates both that these auditory brain mechanisms have a profound potential for plasticity and that sound processing is biologically intertwined with listening and language skills. A new wave of studies has pushed neuroscience beyond the traditional laboratory by revealing the effects of community music training in underserved populations. These community-based studies reinforce laboratory work highlight how the auditory system achieves a remarkable balance between stability and flexibility in processing speech. Moreover, these community studies have the potential to inform health care, education, and social policy by lending a neurobiological perspective to their efficacy.

Journal Article 3: Hernández, E. T., García, I. P., Campos-Cantón, I., García, L. J. O., & Kolosovas-Machuca, E.S. (in press). Influence of background noise produced in university facilities on the brain waves associated with attention of students and employees. Perception.
doi: 10.1177/0301006617700672.

Abstract: As a consequence of noise exposure, lack of attention badly affects directly the academic and work performance. The study of the brain and the waves that it produces is the most objective way to evaluate this process. Attentional improvement is associated with increases of the amplitude in both beta and theta bands. The objective of this work is to study the influence of background noise produced inside university facilities on changes in the cerebral waves related to attention processes (beta 13–30 Hz and theta 4–7 Hz). Volunteers were asked to perform a specific task in which attention was involved. This task was performed in both silent and noisy conditions. To evaluate the cerebral activity of volunteers during the development of the test, measurement of spontaneous activity (electroencephalogram) was developed. The results show significant decreases in both beta and theta frequency bands under background noise exposure. Since attentional improvement is related to an increment on amplitude of both beta and theta bands, it is suggested that decreases on amplitude of these frequency bands could directly be related to a lack of attention caused by the exposure to background noise.

Journal Article 4: Siciliano, R., Hirata, Y., & Kelly, S. D. (2016). Electrical stimulation over left inferior frontal gyrus disrupts hand gesture’s role in foreign vocabulary learningEducational Neuroscience, 1, 1-12.
doi: 10.1177/2377616116652402.

Abstract: Hand gestures are a potent aid in foreign language learning. The present experiment sought to enhance their utility using transcranial direct current stimulation (tDCS). Employing tDCS, we investigated whether stimulation over the left inferior frontal gyrus (IFG) – an area implicated in multimodal integration – increases gesture’s beneficial role in foreign vocabulary learning. Replicating previous research, we found that when participants learned words accompanied by iconic gestures, they demonstrated better retention of those words compared to learning with speech alone. However, when tDCS was applied to the region above the left IFG, the beneficial effects of gesture were absent. Despite the recent enthusiasm over neuromodulation techniques, the present results provide one case in which neural stimulation may actually disrupt, rather than help, learning.