Academic Year 2018-2019

Dr. Marie Coppola

Amodal neurolinguistic and cognitive representations: Evidence from prosody and number concepts in ASL signers and English speakers

The aim of this presentation is to offer a synthesis of the contemporary evidence of neuroscientific studies of childhood poverty, in terms of (1) which associations have been identified between the experience of poverty and changes in the nervous system; (2) what mediators and moderators have been identified in such associations (particularly those related to the regulation of stress and the quality of parenting environments); and (3) what are the implications of this evidence for the design of interventions and policies. Although the neuroscientific available evidence supports the notion about the importance of investing resources to promote different aspects of child development, its correlational and preliminary nature requires caution in: (a) sustaining notions about causal mechanisms that function as unique determinants of development; (b) reducing the explanation of complex phenomena that involve different levels of organization to only one of them (e.g., neural or social); and (c) disseminating misconceptions and over-generalizations of neurobiological phenomena. Finally, the presentation will approach some of the future directions that could expand opportunities for scientific-political transference, which include -among other possible ones- the testing of new technologies aimed at identifying processes of change and neural adaptation, as well as specific markers, in the context of interventions; and the development of computational efforts based on Relational Developmental Systems (RDS) conceptions that would contribute to policy decision-making processes.

Date/Time: Thursday, January 31, 2019, 4:00-5:30 p.m.
Merrill Learning Center (Library) B111


Dr. Marie Coppola, currently working in the Departments of Psychological Sciences and Linguistics, began her academic career at MIT and majored in Cognitive Sciences. Dr. Coppola earned her Ph.D. with Drs. Elissa Newport and Ted Supalla in the Sign Language Research Center at the University of Rochester, and then worked with Dr. Susan Goldin-Meadow at the University of Chicago.

Dr. Coppola and her colleagues pioneered the field of emerging languages, which offers insights into the human capacity for language, effects of language modality, sensitive periods, and the impact of variable language experiences on cognitive development.

Since 1994, Dr. Coppola has conducted fieldwork in Nicaragua, and worked closely with a small number of homesigners. She has discovered that despite this lack of linguistic input, homesigners innovate a number of linguistic properties in their gesture systems. However, the negative consequences of such language deprivation can be observed in other domains; this work led her to study the impact of language experience on number concepts and social cognition in deaf children in the United States. She now directs the Language Creation Laboratory and the NSF-funded Study of Language and Math.