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PEN Students Gain Cognitive Neuroscience Training at the University of Hong Kong

May 07, 2016

In June and July 2015, Ph.D. in Educational Neuroscience (PEN) students Adam Stone and Geo Kartheiser (Petitto, Advisor; in the photo above in front of the world-famous Hong Kong skyline) conducted their summer cognitive neuroscience laboratory rotations at the University of Hong Kong (HKU). These rotations, an integral part of the PEN doctoral program, were funded by a NSF supplemental award (written by Petitto) from the Science of Learning Centers Program (Dr. Soo-Siang Lim, NSF Program Director and Chair of Coordinating Committee) and the Office of International Science and Engineering (Dr. Akaysha C. Tang, East Asia & Pacific Program Director) as part of efforts to promote HKU’s Science of Learning initiatives and advance USA priority efforts in promoting international scientific and collaborative exchanges.

Kartheiser completed his rotation at Professor Tatia Lee’s Laboratory of Social Cognitive Affective Neuroscience at the University of Hong Kong. In Professor Lee’s laboratory, he received fMRI training and gained advanced knowledge in core issues in differential patterns of functional brain plasticity during focused attention and mental imagery particularly in Chinese individuals. He also presented to Professor Lee’s laboratory on his own work regarding the neural plasticity of spatial working memory in signed language processing. As a part of the rotation, he also engaged in intellectual discussions with members of Professor Lee’s team on the structural and functional plasticity of the human brain as a result of meditation and mindfulness.

Stone, placed in the laboratory of Dr. I-Fan Su, gained training in EEG and ERP principles and data analysis as used in reading and psycholinguistic studies, and observed data collection procedures. He also participated in stimulating scientific discussions and exchanges with Dr. Su’s team, covering a wide range of topics such as the basics of Chinese writing (including sublexical reading processes), dyslexic Chinese readers, phonological awareness, Persian orthography, and visual sign phonology and how deaf readers use visual cues, as opposed to sound cues, as a robust route for reading.

Jointly, they also worked to advance their fNIRS experimental designs and research data analyses, and with Professor Petitto and Professor Kevin Dunbar (Visiting Research Professor at HKU from the University of Maryland), mentor HKU neuroscientists in constructing and conducting fNIRS pilot studies in the brand-new HKU Science of Learning Lab. Also, as part of the Science of Learning Strategic Research Team’s annual SummerFest, Stone and Kartheiser participated in several all-day workshops covering Matlab, EEGLab, E-Prime, R, and SPM, and attended Education and Neuroscience symposia, including one focusing on “Literacy and the Brain.”

Last, Kartheiser and Stone managed to squeeze in some sightseeing during HKU’s scientific and training activities! They (with interpreters Nicole Cartagna and Erin Spurgeon) visited some of Hong Kong’s famous landmarks, such as the “Big Buddha” at Lantau Island and the world-famous Hong Kong skyline. They also visited a sign-bilingual co-enrollment kindergarten program with deaf and hearing children (organized by the Chinese University of Hong Kong’s Centre of Sign Linguistics & Deaf Studies, Dr. Gladys Tang, Director) and last but not least, HKU’s famous lily pond with Professor Nancy Law (Co-Convenor and Corresponding Officer of the Science of Learning Strategic Research Team).

During Hong Kong SAR Day (July 1), they took a day trip to Lantau Island and rode a 5.7-km long gondola to see the famous “Big Buddha.” (L-R: Nicole Cartagna, interpreter, Adam Stone, Geo Kartheiser, Erin Spurgeon, interpreter)

Geo Kartheiser and Adam Stone (in center of group) visited the Kindergarten Sign Bilingualism & Co-enrollment in Deaf Education Programme organized by the Chinese University of Hong Kong’s Centre for Sign Linguistics and Deaf Studies (Prof. Gladys Tang, director).

Adam Stone and Geo Kartheiser pose with Professor Nancy Law (Co-Convenor and Corresponding Officer of the Science of Learning Strategic Research Team) in front of the famous lily pond at the University of Hong Kong.

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