News

From 2014: 
2017   2016   2015   2014  

2017

January 2017
Harvard University, Grand Challenges Canada, and other institutions distributed a press release on a paper that we published in Lancet Global Health. The paper reports that if women (in Lombok, Indonesia) took multiple micrountrients while pregnant, their children had better cognition (as compared to women who did not take these micronutrients) when they were about 10 years old. In fact, the children's procedural memory advantages were equivalent to the increase in score typical after an additional half-year of schooling. Additionally, we found that socio-economic factors such as a strong nurturing environment also significantly positively affected the children's cognition. 
     Read the press release: Maternal Micronutrients, Nurturing Environment Boost Child Development
     Read about it in The Telegraph, Science Daily, or Eureka Alert
     Read the article: Prado, E.L., Sebayang, S.K., Apriatni, M., Adawiyah, S.R., Hidayati, N., Islamiyah, A., Siddiq, S., Harefa, B., Lum, J., Alcock, K.J., Ullman, M.T., Muadz, H. & Shankar, A.H. (2017). Maternal multiple micronutrient supplementation and other biomedical and socio-environmental influences on children’s cognition at age 9–12 years in Indonesia: Follow-up of the SUMMIT randomised trial. Lancet Global Health. 5, e217–28.

2016

November 2016
A grant from the Swedish Research Council was awarded to Mikael Heimann (PI; Linköping University, Sweden), Rachel Barr (co-PI; Georgetown University), and Michael Ullman (co-PI). The project, entitled "Which neurocognitive learning and memory systems are associated with language development in 9- to 22-month-old children?", examines the relationship between declarative and procedural memory on the one hand, and lexical and grammatical language abilities on the other, in a longitudinal study of infants.

October 2016
Tanya Evans and Michael Ullman were interviewed by Dyslexic Advantage on dyslexia, math disability, and procedural memory. 
     See the post and listen to the interview: Interview with Tanya Evans and Michael Ullman on dyslexia, math disability, and procedural memory.

October 2016
Tanya Evans and Michael Ullman were interviewed on the role of procedural memory in math disability, on The Takeaway (a morning radio news program produced by Public Radio International (PRI) and WNYC-New York Public Radio, with editorial partners The New York Times and WGBH Radio Boston).
     Listen to the interview: Interview with Tanya Evans and Michael Ullman on the role of procedural memory in math disability.

October 2016
Newcastle University in the UK distributed a press release on a paper that we published in the journal Brain and Language. First author Cristina Dye is at Newcastle. The paper reports that children with Tourette syndrome are faster at repeating made-up words than typically developing children. This is interpreted as reflecting speeded rule-governed combination of phonological segments, since non-word repetition depends importantly on (de)composition of these segments. The results are consistent with our previous findings suggesting speeded rule-governed combination in morphology (Walenski et al., 2007). We suggest that, more generally, rule-governed grammatical combination may be speeded in Tourette syndrome, perhaps due to its dependence on frontal/basal-ganglia circuits that also underlie tics, which share the characteristic of being fast and semi-voluntary.
     Read the press release: Do children with Tourette syndrome have an advantage at language?
     Read about it in United Press International, Headline News, Medical News Today, Science Daily, Medical XpressNeuroscience News, Breaking News Magazine, The Daily Mail (UK), Med India, Iran NewsSahafaha Arabiah, or Look  Magazine (UK).
     Read the article: Dye, C.D., Walenski, M., Mostofsky, S. H., & Ullman, M.T. (2016). A verbal strength in children with Tourette syndrome? Evidence from a non-word repetition task. Brain and Language. 160, pp. 61-70. 

September 2016
Georgetown University Medical Center distributed a press release on a paper that was published in a special issue on reading and math in the journal Frontiers in Psychology. The paper proposes that developmental math disability can be explained in part by abnormalities of brain structures subserving the procedural memory system, which underlies our learning of automatized skills like driving or grammar. That is, the paper extends the procedural deficit hypothesis (PDH) from language-related disorders (specific language impairment, dyslexia) to math disability. This brain-based account of math disability is motivated in part by the presence of math problems in children with dyslexia or specific language impairment, suggesting that the deficits may share causal mechanisms. The account is also motivated by the fact that learning automatized math skills, which are impaired in math disability, likely depend on procedural memory. Although the paper does not claim that the PDH is likely to fully explain math disability, it suggests that the hypothesis could have substantial explanatory power, and may provide a useful theoretical framework to advance our understanding of the disorder.
     Read the press release: Math difficulties may reflect problems in a crucial learning system in the brain
     Read about it in Science DailyMedical DailyMSN.comThe Sun (UK), Science News, Medical Xpress, The Parent Herald, News World India, South Asian Times, or La Vanguardia (Catalonia).
     Read the article: Evans, T.M., & Ullman, M.T. (2016). An extension of the procedural deficit hypothesis from developmental language disorders to mathematical disability. Frontiers in Psychology. 7, 1318.

September 2016
Michael Ullman was interviewed on the role of declarative memory in autism in an article for Spectrum magazine, which focuses on the disorder.

July 2016
An NIH R21 grant, HD087088 (2016-2018), “The neurocognition of procedural and declarative memory in dyslexia and S-RCD”, was awarded to Laurie Cutting from Vanderbilt University (Principal Investigator) and Michael Ullman (Subcontractual Principal Investigator). Using fMRI and behavioral approaches, the project examines the hypotheses that two neurodevelopmental reading disorders, dyslexia and specific-reading comprehension disorder (S-RCD), may be at least partly explained by impairments of procedural memory and declarative memory, respectively. 

March 2016
Michael Ullman was interviewed about bilingualism and learning languages in immersion contexts on the radio show Central Standard, on public radio station KCUR in Kansas City, Missouri. 
     Listen to the interview: Interview with Michael Ullman on bilingualism and immersion

2015

April 2015
Natasha Janfaza, an undergraduate in the lab, was awarded a Kalorama Fellowship for the summer of 2015, from Georgetown University. ​The Kalorama Fellowship offers select Georgetown undergraduates an intensive summer research experience in the sciences or humanities to pursue an independent research project under the guidance of a mentor. She will be working with Michael Ullman on a study examining the relation between music learning, language learning, and memory systems. 

March 2015 
Christos Pliatsikas was awarded a Franklin Research Grant from the American Philosophical Society to visit the Brain and Language lab, arriving in September 2015.

March 2015 
Michael Ullman and Mariel Pullman wrote a column in the Simons Foundation Autism Research Initiative (SFARI) newsletter, on the compensatory role of declarative memory in autism. 
     Read the column: Powerful memory system may compensate for autism's deficits

March 2015 
Michael Ullman was interviewed about the compensatory role of declarative memory in autism, dyslexia, OCD, and other neurodevelopmental disorders, on the Georgetown University Forum radio show, which is distributed to National Public Radio and the Armed Forces Radio. 
     Listen to the interview: Interview with Michael Ullman on compensation by declarative memory

February 2015
Georgetown University Medical Center distributed a press release on the publication of a paper in the journal Neuroscience and Biobehavioral Reviews. The paper proposes that individuals with five neurodevelopmental disorders — autism spectrum disorder, obsessive-compulsive disorder, Tourette syndrome, dyslexia, and specific language impairment — compensate for a wide range of deficits by relying on a single powerful and nimble system in the brain known as declarative memory.  This hypothesis, which may extend to other disorders (e.g., ADHD, aphasia, Parkinson's disease), has potentially important therapeutic, diagnostic, and basic research implications.      
     Read the press release: 
A brain system that appears to compensate for autism, OCD, and dyslexia
     Read about it in Science Daily, Autism Daily Newscast, or PsychCentral.
     Read the article: Ullman, M.T. and Pullman, M.Y. (2015). A compensatory role for declarative memory in neurodevelopmental disorders. Neuroscience and Biobehavioral Reviews. 51, 205-222.

February 2015
Michael Ullman was interviewed about second language and bilingualism on the Georgetown University Forum radio show, which is distributed to National Public Radio and the Armed Forces Radio.
     Listen to the interview: Interview with Michael Ullman on second language and bilingualism

January 2015
Scott Miles, a Ph.D. student in the Brain and Language Lab, was selected as a 2015 Cosmos Scholars Award recipient, and also received a J.K. McLaughlin Award in Biomedical Science from the Cosmos Club Foundation, for his proposal "The neurocognition of learning a new musical system". 

2014

December 2014
Michael Ullman was interviewed by Diane R​ehm on The Diane Rehm Show, about bilingualism and the brain.
     Listen to the interview: The Latest Research On Bilingualism And The Brain

September 2014
Georgetown University Medical Center distributed a press release on the publication of a study in the journal Research in Autism Spectrum Disorders. The study suggests that boys with autism are faster at processing grammar than typically developing boys. 
     Read the press release: Boys with Autism Demonstrate Surprising Strength in Grammar Processing 
     Read about it in Autism Daily Newscast.
     Read the article: Walenski, M., Mostofsky, S. H. & Ullman, M. T. (2014). Inflectional morphology in high-functioning autism: Evidence for speeded grammatical processing. Research in AutismSpectrum Disorders. 8, 1607-1621.

September 2014
We were awarded a National Science Foundation grant: NSF BCS 1439290 (2014-2017), "Second language acquisition and long-term retention in a mini-language". The project examines how our brains change as we learn a second language. Adult participants learn a reduced version of the Basque language while both behavioral and neural (fMRI) measures are continuously acquired, from initial exposure to high proficiency, and then again weeks later to test retention. The project should reveal for the first time how the brain changes in real time as it learns a language.

June 2014
Newcastle University distributed a press release on the publication of a study in the journal PLoS ONE. The study suggests that girls and boys may rely on different neurocognitive mechanisms for aspects of grammar: specifically, whereas boys appear to compose rule-governed complex forms from their parts (e.g., walk + -ed), girls are more likely to store and retrieve them as chunks (e.g., "walked").
     Read about it in Science Daily.
     Read the article: Dye, C.D., Walenski, M., Prado, E., Mostofsky, S.H., & Ullman, M.T. (2013). Children's computation of complex linguistic forms: A study of frequency and imageability effects. PLoS ONE. 8(9), e74683.

2013-2014
Led by Jarrad Lum, we published a series of meta-analyses on procedural memory in various disorders. These suggest that procedural memory is impaired in dyslexia, Specific Language Impairment (SLI), and Parkinson's disease. The meta-analyses focused on the Serial Reaction Time (SRT) task, the most widely used task to probe procedural memory. A press release was also distributed for one of these papers.
SRT meta-analysis in Parkinson's disease:
     Read the article: 
Clark, G.M., Lum, J. A. G., & Ullman, M. T. (2014). A meta-analysis and meta-regression of serial reaction time task performance in Parkinson's disease. Neuropsychology. 28(6), 945-958.
SRT meta-analysis in SLI:
     Read the press release: Unconscious memories affect language learning
     Read the article: Lum, J.A.G., Conti-Ramsden, G.M., Morgan, A.T., & Ullman, M.T. (2014). Procedural learning deficits in Specific Language Impairment (SLI): A meta-analysis of serial reaction time task performance. Cortex. 51, 1-10.
SRT meta-analysis in dyslexia:
     Read the article: 
Lum, J.A.G., Ullman, M.T., & Conti-Ramsden, G. (2013). Procedural learning is impaired in dyslexia: Evidence from a meta-analysis of serial reaction time studies. Research in Developmental Disabilities. 34(10), 3460-3476.