Events / ILST seminar: Sara Sanchez-Alonso

ILST seminar: Sara Sanchez-Alonso

April 7, 2023
1:30 PM - 3:00 PM

3401 Walnut Street, Room 401B, 3401 Walnut Street, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania 19104

Sara Sanchez-Alonso
Language Learning and Multisensory Brain (LLAMB) Lab
Yale University


Language neurobiology in early development: Advances in pediatric neuroimaging through multi-modal integration of fMRI and fNIRS


Early childhood is an important period to establish foundational language skills, which critically impact subsequent language and educational achievements. Most language delays and disorders emerge during this period and are diagnosed only in the absence of expected behavioral milestones. Importantly, it is largely unknown how the developing brain supports language learning and, specifically, how neural variation maps onto behavioral milestones. One way to help close this gap is to implement paradigms that quantify child-specific individual variation in language-related neural systems across key developmental points. In this talk, I will first present a framework to study neuro-behavioral variation relevant to language learning in early development. Next, I will show how functional near-infrared spectroscopy (fNIRS) –a neuroimaging modality well-suited for pediatric research– can be used to probe language-related brain regions in infants and toddlers. Finally, I will present data from a study with young adults in which we have collected simultaneous fMRI and fNIRS signals to validate region-level activations and functional connectivity across modalities. The larger goal of this multi-modal imaging project is to enable future cross-modality quantitative comparisons when fNIRS is the only collected signal across both typical and atypical development. Collectively, this line of research aims to identify mechanisms that can inform the developing neurobiology of language across typical and atypical populations.