PEN Lecture Series

Academic Year 2016-2017

The PhD in Educational Neuroscience Program (PEN) presents its 2016-2017 Lecture Series. This year's theme is

"Breaking Down Barriers."

The lecture series is presented in conjunction with the PEN 701 Proseminar.


All presentations are open to the public.                                                                                                                         Location: Merrill Learning Center (Library), B111, from 4:00 -5:30 p.m.                                                                 Interpreters and CART services will be provided. 

Live Streaming Available

Please view the presentations below to obtain the URL for live streaming of the presentations; high-speed internet access is necessary for the best viewing experience.

Archived Presentations

All  presentations from 2008 to present are available on the VL2 website and on the Gallaudet's Webcast Channel


Dr. Nathan Fox
Dr. Nathan Fox
What Happens to Infants who are Abandoned?

Dr. Nathan Fox will present ground-breaking research examining the effects of abandonment and social deprivation on the developing child. If you are interested in child development, education, behavior, psychology, or neuroscience, you will benefit greatly from attending. Dr. Fox's team performed a unique experiment--taking a group of abandoned children out of orphanages in Bucharest, and placing them in foster care created for the purpose of the research. His work compares the outcomes of the children who remained in orphanages to those who were placed in foster care. Dr. Fox will discuss the short- and long-term outcomes of this intervention, on the behavior, mental health, and brain development of these children.

Dr. Marina Bedny
Dr. Marina Bedny
How does a difference in sensory input change a person's development?

Dr. Marina Bedny conducts fascinating research into how blindness affects brain organization, language, and the construction of abstract concepts. For example, what do blind adults know about vision-related terms like “sparkling” and “flashing?” How do blind children acquire such concepts? Dr. Bedny's work uses brain imaging to ask these questions, revealing astounding insights about the nature of human perception and sensation.

Dr. Andrew Meltzoff
Dr. Andrew Meltzoff
Minds, brains and how children learn: From infants to society.

February 16, 2017 from 4:00-5:30 p.m.

Human beings are highly social creatures, and our social nature is already evident in infancy. Infants, prior to language, use imitation to learn about physical objects and cultural practices. Infant imitation entails a mapping between action perception and production. This mapping can be described at both the psychological and neural levels. One of the infant’s first and most basic psychological acts is the recognition of others who act, move, and behave like the self. This is captured by a theory of social development I have called the “Like-Me” developmental theory. I propose that this lies at the foundation for human social cognitive development. I will also extend this view to older children, and discuss how pervasive stereotypes about social groups influence children’s emerging sense of self and identity.

Dr. Joy Hirsch
Dr. Joy Hirsch
The new neuroscience of "two": Communicating eye-to-eye.

February 23, 2017 from 4:00-5:30 p.m.

Human brains are primarily adapted for social interaction and communication. However, the underlying neural processes associated with social interaction and communication are not well-understood. This knowledge gap reflects both conventional limitations in neuroimaging methods that are restricted to single individuals and not conducive to investigations of naturally occurring human interactions, and also a limited theoretical framework for understanding human interpersonal interactions. Both are addressed by recent developments that include: 1) a novel hyperscanning technology (functional near-infrared spectroscopy, fNIRS) that acquires hemodynamic signals simultaneously between two naturally interacting partners using a spectral absorbance technique that detects changes in hemodynamic signals acquired by surface-mounted optodes, and 2) a recently proposed Interactive Brain Hypothesis that establishes a broad theoretical framework for two-person social neuroscience. This hypothesis is based on the assumptions that two-way communications elicit specific neural processes some of which will synchronize across interacting brains. Here I present evidence for these assumptions based on two social behaviors, eye-to-eye contact and verbal dialogue. Hemodynamic signals associated with eye-to-eye contact between partners (interactive condition) were compared with signals associated with mutual gaze at eyes in a picture of a face (non-interactive condition). Similar signals for picture naming and description in a dialogue (interactive) condition were compared with picture-naming and description in a monologue (non-interactive) condition. Consistent with the Interactive Brain Hypothesis, both eye-to-eye contact effects and dialogue effects were observed in a left frontal and temporal-parietal complex including the canonical language system. Further, cross-brain synchrony observed by wavelet analysis in the interactive conditions was observed for the temporal-parietal complex. These findings are consistent with the Interactive Brain Hypothesis and suggest a model of neural specializations for communication that links eye-to-eye contact and language systems via frontal, central, and temporal-parietal networks.

Dr. Sian Block - CANCELED
Dr. Sian Block - CANCELED
Overcoming anxiety about math.

This talk will be RESCHEDULED to Spring 2018

Basic math skills are important for success in school and everyday life. Yet many people experience apprehension and fear when dealing with numerical information, termed math anxiety. In this talk I will discuss both antecedents and consequences of math anxiety, revealing some surprising insights into its onset, risk factors, and remediation.

The 2016-2017 brochure is available here.