WHO AM I?
WHAT DO I DO?
Assistant Professor in the Linguistics and Cognitive Science Department at the University of Delaware.
Joint Appointments: Psychological and Brain Sciences, Communication Sciences and Disorders.
Research Scientist at Haskins Laboratories
Scientific Director of the BOLD (Brain Organization for Language+Literacy) Laboratory
Postdoctoral Research Associate position available.
Accepting summer research assistants. Interested graduate students can apply to the PhD program in Linguistics or Psychological and Brain Sciences.
Education and Training
I am fundamentally interested in the neural mechanisms that support language (monolingual or bilingual, signed or spoken), reading and cognitive development across the lifespan. My research asks questions such as how does early life experience change the brain’s capacity for language and learning? I use MRI and functional Near Infrared Spectroscopy (fNIRS) neuroimaging technology in combination with genetic and behavioral analyses to gain new insights into the biological underpinnings of language, reading, and human cognition.
Recently, my research has focused on understanding child development (particularly literacy outcomes) in environments with high risk of illiteracy. Currently, my team and I are conducting a field neuroimaging study in the rural Côte d'Ivoire aimed at understanding how the neural circuitry for reading emerges under extremely poor conditions (more).
My research also develops novel data analysis approaches to functional neuroimaging data. My work uses combinations of multivariate statistics and modeling to quantify developmental changes among interacting brain systems that give rise to language and higher cognitive functions.
Promoting Literacy Development in Children in Rural Cocoa Producing Communities
How does inconsistent access to language and reading instruction in a new language impact literacy outcomes? How can we best design policies to ameliorate the negative consequence of poverty on literacy? As part of the Transforming Education in Cocoa Communities (TRECC) program and with a team of Ivorian graduate students, we are conducting a cognitive, linguistic, and reading assessment in children growing up in rural cocoa communities in Cote d’Ivoire. We combine behavioral indicators of literacy development with portable neuroimaging using functional Near Infrared Spectroscopy (fNIRS) to shed new light on brain development in impoverished and adverse conditions. Children in these communities face many challenges to learning to read: high poverty rates, poor school attendance, and child labor in cocoa agriculture. Children face the added challenge of learning to read in a new language, French, different from the language spoke in their community. Education is almost exclusively French, while there are over 60 languages spoken in Ivory Coast. Our combined brain-behavior approach allows us to apply the latest tools of cognitive neuroscience to advance the study of global child development.
Research Team: Dr. Herman Akpe, Fabrice Tanoh, Axel Blahoua
Funding: Jacobs Foundation Early Career Fellowship (PI: Jasinska); Jacobs Foundation Science Capacity Building Funding (PI: Jasinska)
Neural and Genetic Basis of Language and Reading Development
The aim of this research program is to track how aspects of language and cognition (including working memory, attention, and executive functions) are represented and processed in the developing brain, and determine how environmental factors such as language background (i.e. bilingualism, biliteracy) shape the neurodevelopmental trajectories of these key linguistic and cognitive skills, and literacy outcomes.
Chinese-, Spanish-, and English-speaking children and adults are invited to participate.
Current studies in this research program include:
Technology-based Literacy Intervention for Rural Cote d'Ivoire: Scalable Solutions
Learning to read depends not only on having access to education, but on having access to quality education. In this research program, we develop a technology-based literacy intervention program for remote, rural communities of Côte d’Ivoire with the goal of providing quality, evidence-based educational programming via mobile phone to complement the school curriculum. No existing literacy intervention programs in Cote d'Ivoire currently offer scalable solutions to quickly address the problems of widespread student literacy failures. Our interdisciplinary approach combines expertise in literacy development, tech-based education solutions, and human-computer interaction in order to examine how technology-based literacy intervention, and its effective implementation and scalability, can improve literacy outcomes in communities with high illiteracy rates. We combine multiple research tools from the learning sciences (language, cognitive, and literacy assessment, longitudinal neuroimaging of the brain's reading networks, and evaluation of technology use and integration into the community) to find an optimal and scalable strategy for literacy intervention that can be adopted in Cote d'Ivoire and throughout sub-Saharan Africa.
Jasinska Research Team: Dr. Herman Akpe, Fabrice Tanoh, Axel Blahoua
Funding: Jacobs Foundation Research Grant (Co-PI: K. Jasinska)
Tracking the Neuroplasticity of the Speech Cortex and Language Outcomes in Children with Cochlear Implants
Hearing loss is one of the most common birth defects in the United States affecting approximately 3 in 1,000 newborns. Depending on the degree of hearing loss, deaf and hard-of-hearing (DHH) infants receive interventions that may include cochlear implants (CI). Nevertheless, there is a huge amount of variability in these children’s linguistic and academic outcomes. The amount/type of therapy that children receive, as well as the language input they are exposed to are thought to contribute (to some degree) to this variability. Additionally, the age of implantation is considered one of the strongest predictors of language outcomes for DHH children, since lack of exposure to sound early in life affects the development of the brain’s auditory processing areas. But not all children implanted at the same age achieve the same language skills. Could there be factors at the neural level that make it easier (or harder) to process speech and acquire language once the brain gains access to sound through the CI? The mechanism by which the brain adapts to a new sensory modality following implantation and begins to perceive the relevant speech stream in a range of listening environments (including noisy contexts that may negatively impact speech processing), and the implication for developing language skills remain poorly understood. We combine two cutting edge technologies (fNIRS and eye-tracking) to examine dynamic changes in neuroplasticity and organization of neural pathways for speech perception and language skills right after implantation. Our research may help predict language outcomes and explain the high degree of individual variability observed in children with CIs. Children requiring additional support could be identified earlier, preventing language delays and later academic problems.
Published (or Accepted for Publication)
Jasińska, K. Molfese, P., Mencl, W.E., Pugh, K.R., Grigorenko, E. & Landi, N. (2017). The BDNF Val66Met Polymorphism is Associated with Structural Neuroanatomical Differences in Young Children. Behavioural Brain Research 328. 48-56. doi:10.1016/j.bbr.2017.03.014.
Jasińska, K., Berens, M. S., Kovelman, I., & Petitto, L. A. (2016). Bilingualism yields language-specific plasticity in left hemisphere's circuitry for learning to read in young children. Neuropsychologia.
Jasińska, K. Molfese, P., Mencl, W.E., Pugh, K.R., Grigorenko, E. & Landi, N. (2016). Relations Between the BDNF Val/Met Polymorphism, Patterns of Neural Activation in the Developing Brain and Children's Reading and Reading-Related Skills. PLOS One.
Jasińska, K., Frost, S., Molfese, P., Landi, N., Mencl, W. E., Rueckle, J., and Pugh, K. (2016). Neuroimaging Perspectives on Skilled and Impaired Reading and the Bilingual Experience. In A. Khateb and I. Bar Kochva (Eds.), Reading Fluency: Current Insights from Neuro-Cognitive Research and Intervention Studies. Haifa, Israel: Springer
Jasińska, K. & Petitto, L.A. (2014). Development of Neural Systems for Reading in the Monolingual and Bilingual Brain: New Insights from functional Near Infrared Spectroscopy Neuroimaging. Developmental Neuropsychology. 39(6), 421-39. doi: 10.1080/87565641.2014.939180.
Jasińska, K. & Petitto, L.A. (2013). How Age of Bilingual Exposure Can Change the Neural Systems for Language in the Developing Brain: A functional Near Infrared Spectroscopy Investigation of Syntactic Processing in Monolingual and Bilingual Children. Developmental Cognitive Neuroscience. 6, 87-101. doi: 10.1016/j.dcn.2013.06.005.
Petitto, L.A., Berens, M.S., Kovelman, I., Dubins, M.H., Jasińska, K., & Shalinsky, M. (2012). The “Perceptual Wedge” hypothesis as the basis for bilingual babies’ phonetic processing advantage: New insights from fNIRS brain imaging. Brain and Language. 121(2), 142-155. doi:0.1016/j.bandl.2011.05.003
Submitted or Under Revision
Ryherd, K., Jasinska, K., Baron, E., Molfese, P., Mencl, W. E., Cutting, L. E. & Landi, N. (Submitted) Neural Activation of Semantic Networks Contributes to Reading Comprehension Skill.
Jasińska, K. & Petitto, L.A. (Submitted). Insights into the Neural Basis of Reading using Multilevel Linear Modeling (MLM) of functional Near Infrared Spectroscopy (fNIRS) Neuroimaging Data: Novel Applications and Insights into Brain Function.
Jasińska, K. & Petitto, L.A. (Submitted). Increased Functional Connectivity in the Developing Bilingual Brain During Language Processing
Jasińska, K. & Do Cao, L. (Submitted). Novel Educational Study in Sub-Saharan Africa: Predictors for Academic Success in STEM Fields.
Conference Presentations (Select)
Jasińska, K., Shuai, L., Lau, A., Landi, N. & Pugh, K. (2017). Using psychophysiological interactions with fNIRS Neuroimaging to Predict 4 year-old Reading Ability. Organization for Human Brain Mapping, Vancouver, Canada.
Jasińska, K., Shuai, L., Lau, A., Mulder, H., Landi, N. & Pugh, K. (2017). Neural Connectivity During Language Processing in 4 Year-Olds Predicts Later Reading Ability. Society for Research in Child Development, Austin, TX.
Jasińska, K., Molfese, P., Mencl, W.E., Frost, S., Lee, M., Pugh, K.R., Grigorenko, E. & Landi, N. (2016). The BDNF Val66Met Polymorphism is Associated with Structure and Function in the Developing Brain with Implications for Children’s Cognitive Abilities. Cognitive Neuroscience Society. New York, NY.
Lau, A., Jasińska, K., Shuai, L., Bortfeld, H., Landi, L., & Pugh, K. (2016). Functional Near Infrared Spectroscopy (fNIRS) Investigation of Emerging Reading Pathways in Children with Poor Phonological Awareness. Cognitive Neuroscience Society. New York, NY.
Ryherd, K., Hung, Y-H., Baron, E., Jasinska, K., Mencl, W.E., & Landi, N (2016, April). Individual differences in activation and functional connectivity across modality and processing level. Cognitive Neuroscience Society, New York, NY.
Ryherd, K., Baron, E., Jasinska, K., Mencl, W.E., & Landi, N. (2015, October). Reading comprehension ability and semantic activation to single words and discourse: an fMRI -partial least squares analysis. Society for the Neurobiology of Language, Chicago, IL.
Jasińska, K., Buis, B., Cort, B., Molfese, P., Mencl, E., Bortfeld, H & Pugh, K. (2015, June) Neural Representations for Spoken and Written Language In Beginning Readers: Insights from fNIRS and fMRI Neuroimaging. Organization for Human Brain Mapping. Honolulu, HI.
Ryherd, K., Baron, E., Jasińska, K., Mencl, E., Landi, N. (2015, April). Neural Activation of Semantic Networks Contribute to Reading Comprehension Skill. Association for Psychological Science. New York, NY.
Jasińska, K., Parbhu, B., Shaw, K, Bortfeld, H & Pugh, K. (2015, March) Neural Representations for Spoken and Written Language during Emergent Literacy. Society for Research in Child Development. Philadelphia, PA.
Jasińska, K. Berens, M. S., Kovelman, I., & Petitto, L. A. (2014). Shedding new light on reading in Spanish-English and English-French bilingual school children: an fNIRS investigation. Cognitive Neuroscience Society. Boston, MA.
Landi, N., Kornilov, S. Molfese, P., Jasińska, K., Lee, M., Mencl, W.E., Hoeft, F., Pugh, K. & Grigorenko, E. (2014). Common but impactful genetic polymorphisms in COMT and BDNF are associated strongly with reading and related skills and associated patterns of neural activity. Cognitive Neuroscience Society. Boston, MA.
Jasińska, K. Langdon, C. & Petitto, L.A. (2013). Does early exposure to a visual signed language “hurt” auditory language tissue development: Evidence from fNIRS neuroimaging of language processing in deaf individuals Cochlear Implants. Society for Neuroscience. San Diego, CA.
Jasińska, K. & Petitto, L.A. (2013). Age of Bilingual Exposure Predicts Distinct Contributions of Phonological and Semantic Knowledge to Successful Reading Development. Society for Research in Child Development. Seattle, WA.
Jasińska, K. & Petitto, L.A. (2011, November). Dual language exposure in infancy can change neural and language processing in the developing brain: an fNIRS investigation. Society for Neuroscience . Washington, DC.
***Note: Presentation was selected for the Society for Neuroscience official Press Book.
Jasińska, K., Jowkar-Baniani, G., Ahmed, F., Forster, E., Bhasin-Laceman, S., Naimi, A, Petitto, L.A., and Dunbar, K.N. (2011, November). Simultaneous imaging of neural activations of women and men in real-time conversation using fNIRS. Society for Neuroscience. Washington, DC.
Jasińska, K., Malkowski, M., & Petitto, L.A. (2011, April). How the Bilingual Reading Experience Can Change a Developing Brain: New Insights from fNIRS. Society for Research in Child Development. Montreal, QC.
Jasińska, K., Malkowski, M., & Petitto, L.A. (2010, November). Neural Correlates of Syntactic Processing in Monolingual and Bilingual Children using event-related functional Near Infrared Spectroscopy (fNIRS) Imaging. Society for Neuroscience. San Diego, CA.
Skarakis-Doyle, E., Campbell, W., Jasińska, K., Terry, A., Gillespie, S., Archibald, L., Theurer, J., & Schidowka, J. (2010, June). The cooperative principle and theory of mind children with language impairment. Symposium for Research in Child Language Disorders. Madison, Wisconsin.
Skarakis-Doyle, E., Campbell, W., Terry, A., Jasińska, K., & Gillespie, S. (2008, June). The cooperative principle and theory of mind in preschool children: understanding others’ intentions and beliefs. Symposium for Research in Child Language Disorders conference. Madison, Wisconsin.
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