PEN Faculty and Students

Clifton Langdon
Gallaudet University

In his role at the NSF-Gallaudet University Science of Learning Center called Visual Language and Visual Learning (VL2), Dr. Clifton is Director of the Language and Educational Neuroscience (LENS) Laboratory, Assistant Professor of the Gallaudet PhD in Educational Neuroscience (PEN) Program, and oversees all PEN Cognitive Neuroscience Laboratory Summer Rotations.
After completing a post-baccalaureate work in Prof. Karen Emmorey’s laboratory where he supported projects relating to spatial language processing, Dr. Langdon became a doctoral fellow for the NSF VL2 Center and received his PhD in Linguistics from Gallaudet University in 2013.  His dissertation (co-advised by Prof. Deborah Chen Pichler and Dr. Paul Dudis) focused on the neural substrates involved in processing of complex spatial verbs (aka, “classifiers”) with data collected in Prof. Laura-Ann Petitto’s laboratory. 
In LENS, Dr. Langdon and his team primarily use functional Near Infrared Spectroscopy (fNIRS) neuroimaging and are working to answer questions about the neural mechanisms that subserve the learning and processing of language and reading. They seek to broadly address: How are the different components of the language neural network working in concert to give rise to the ability to learn and process language and reading?  When a first language is acquired later (e.g. as a toddler), what components will show stability and what components will show plasticity?  When a language is acquired via aural, visual, or tactile channels, Dr. Langdon and the LENS team have observed both variance and invariance of the language neural network.  What principles of neuroplasticity are derived from unique interface between experience and genetics? 
Specifically, Dr. Langdon and the LENS team are investigating the developmental trajectories of these mechanisms in response to two key variables: modality and timing of language exposure.  In order to generate novel discoveries about the human capacity for language and reading, our studies look across the developmental lifespan, ranging across infants, children, and adults. Their participants are deaf, hearing, or deafblind and use visual, aural, or tactile languages.  Dr. Langdon's and his team are seeking to bring into relief the functions and interactions between these different mechanisms that subserve language and reading.