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CSD Research Labs

Bilingualism and Aphasia Laboratory

Roxana Botezatu, Director (email: botezatum@health.missouri.edu)

Research in the Bilingualism and Aphasia Lab employs bilingualism and aphasia as platforms for investigating the cognitive mechanisms underlying word recognition and production in adults. We use behavioral and electrophysiological (ERP) techniques to evaluate the relationship between language production and comprehension in bilingualism and aphasia and the consequences of second language proficiency on native language performance. This research is currently funded by the School of Health Professions at MU and the Mizzou Alumni Association.

Highly motivated undergraduate and graduate students are encouraged to contact Dr. Botezatu to discuss research opportunities in the lab.

Child Language Lab

Dr. Judith Goodman’s child language lab focuses on how children acquire and use linguistic knowledge from the very first stages of language learning.

Her current projects are concerned with the cognitive mechanisms that underlie vocabulary and grammar acquisition, the role of parental input in vocabulary acquisition, the relationship between learning in different language domains, and the development of conversation.

The lab is equipped with a testing room including a wall-mounted video camera for recording experimental sessions, two video viewing/transcription stations, and computers with software for language and statistical analysis, database management, and report writing.

Early Childhood Language and Literacy Lab

Dr. Elizabeth Kelley’s research focuses on the development of language and literacy skills of young children. The goal of this research is to improve the oral language skills of children at risk for reading disabilities. Research areas include the design of effective instruction to improve oral language skills of preschool children in high poverty communities, examination of word learning strategies of preschool children, and examination of methods for facilitation of language development by parents, teachers, and speech-language pathologists. Current projects underway include the efficacy testing of a storybook intervention designed to improve vocabulary and comprehension skills of preschool children.

Infant Language and Cognitive Research Lab

Dr. Fagan's research investigates early speech, language, and cognitive development. Projects currently underway in the Infant Language and Cognitive Research Lab include studies of infant vocalization and language emergence; language and cognitive development in deaf and hard of hearing infants; attention and exploration in infants with cochlear implants; and caregiver-infant interactions.

Language and Fluency Lab

Dr. Stacy Wagovich’s language and fluency lab focuses on language and fluency examination, transcription, coding, and analysis. Currently underway are:

  • An NIH/NIDCD-funded study examining partial word knowledge growth in school-age children with language and reading difficulties, and
  • A UMC Research Council-funded study focusing on the relationship between conversational language and fluency in young children who stutter.

The lab includes a testing area for school-age children and adults, digital video and audio recorders, two video viewing/transcription stations, desktop and laptop computers equipped with software for language coding and analysis, and a range of formal measures of language and fluency.

Neurogenetic Communication Disorders Laboratory

Dr. Kuruvilla is interested in understanding the biologic basis of communication disorders in amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS; also called Lou Gehrig’s disease). Even though ALS is a fatal neurodegenerative disease that affects working memory (WM) and communication very little is known about the genetic-brain-behavior processes underlying these deficits. In order to identify these neurogenetic changes affecting functional decline, Dr. Kuruvilla is collaborating with investigators with complementary expertise in cytogenetics, bioinformatics, and cognitive psychology. Her research also investigates the cognitive mechanisms underlying speech impairments in ALS.

The neurogenetic communication disorders lab, located at Mizzou North, will house state-of-the-art emerging technologies to study orofacial movements, cortical activation, and behavioral phenotypes. The outcomes of this research are expected to have an important impact on the development of research and clinical tools to improve diagnosis and treatment of ALS-related communication disorders.

Dr. Kuruvilla’s research is currently funded by the School of Health Professions, MU.

Neurophysiology Lab

Several mouse strains have been established as genetic models for human neurological diseases that are known to cause swallowing impairment (dysphagia). Examples include amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (i.e., Lou Gehrig's disease), Alzheimer’s disease, Huntington’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, Niemann-Pick disease, muscular dystrophy, spinal muscular atrophy, ataxia, Angelman syndrome, Down syndrome, and Fragile-X syndrome. Common symptoms of dysphagia in humans with these neurological diseases include malnutrition, dehydration, and respiratory complications, all of which may result in a poor quality of life and contribute to death. The focus of Dr. Lever’s research is to investigate each of these mouse models of neurological disease to determine whether they develop characteristics of human dysphagia and are suitable for translational dysphagia research. This research is currently funded by the NIH/NIDCD. The ultimate goal is to identify novel and effective treatments to improve the swallowing function (and consequently the life-span and quality of life) of individuals with various neurological diseases.

Dr. Lever’s lab, which is located in the Department of Biomedical Sciences, is outfitted with state-of-the-art equipment for conducting electrophysiology experiments, genotyping, behavioral phenotyping, general histology, immunohistochemistry, and microscopy.

Students (undergraduate or graduate) with a fascination for neuroscience are encouraged to contact Dr. Lever to discuss current and prospective research opportunities in her lab.

Vocal Control and Vocal Well-Being Laboratory

Dr. Dietrich’s research focuses on how individuals differ in their vocal control and vocal behavior as a function of stressor exposure and personality and the resulting implications for risk for voice disorders. The research will help to determine what constitutes vocal resilience and how to improve vocal well-being. Research methods range from basic and clinical voice science to psychobiology, neuroimaging such as functional fMRI, and laryngeal muscle biology. The laboratory will be equipped with state-of-the-art instruments for voice evaluation and acoustic and laryngeal function testing, psychobiological testing instruments, and a workstation for analysis of functional neuroimages. In addition to studying vocal control in vocally healthy individuals, Dr. Dietrich is interested in patients with muscle tension dysphonia, vocal fold nodules, and occupational voice users such as teachers and student teachers. Dr. Dietrich’s research program aims to contribute to an evidence-based biopsychosocial model of risk for voice disorders that informs innovative screening, prevention, and treatment approaches. She enjoys collaboration with colleagues from many diverse but related disciplines, including otolaryngology, neuroscience, psychology, education, and music.


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