Laurie Cutting receives Joe B. Wyatt Distinguished University Professor Award

by Julia Collins 0 Comments

Cutting, holder of the Patricia and Rodes Hart Chair and professor of special education, psychology and pediatrics, won the Joe B. Wyatt Distinguished University Professor Award in recognition of accomplishments that bridge multiple academic disciplines and honor the development of significant new knowledge from research or exemplary innovations in teaching.

“Laurie uses neuroimaging to focus on brain-behavior relations in children and adolescents, with a particular emphasis on reading disabilities, language and executive function,” Zeppos said. “(She) was instrumental in developing Vanderbilt’s educational neuroscience doctoral program, the first of its kind in the United States.”

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Stephen Bailey receives NIH Pre-Doctoral Fellowship

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Stephen Bailey was the recent recipient of a competitive NIH pre-doctoral fellowship. The grant supports his work in the lab investigating the nature of the brain networks critical for reading comprehension. The goal of this research is to fill in gaps in our understanding of how brain networks are related to aspects of reading comprehension, especially in young readers. His proposed research will also examine to what extent these networks can be used to predict growth in reading skill over time, improving our understanding of the utility of prognostic neuroimaging in school-aged children.

Scripted MRI Preparation Process

For children 8 years old or younger, we have a very scripted and thorough preparation process that takes about 20 minutes. We take it one step at a time and stop immediately if we notice a child becoming anxious, hesitant, teary, etc. at any time during the practice/mock session.

First, we show your child a cartoon about the scanner (animals going on a “space journey”), a slide show about a real participant’s visit to our lab, and demonstrate what it’s like to be inside “the tube” by using a fold-up play tunnel as the MRI machine. On a computer, we play the noises that the scanner makes while pretending inside the play tunnel. A well-trained staff member (“scanner buddy”) is assigned to assist your child and will be with your child during all scanning procedures. We answer all questions you or your child may have and take our time making sure your child understands what he/she will be asked to do. If the child is agreeable after “pretending” in our lab, we walk parent and child to VUIIS to pretend further using a real-looking MRI machine that has the working parts removed (mock scanner – no magnet). The parent will wait in a waiting area just outside the mock room. Again, we go through a script with your child that makes sure they understand they will need to lie as still as possible on the bed inside the tube while we take pictures of his/her brain. A lab member demonstrates first by going inside the scanner while the child pretends to be the assistant (allowed to push the buttons to make the bed go up and down, in and out of the tube, etc.). The child is then asked to lie down on the bed and practice inside the mock scanner. We have the child lie as still as possible while we run through shortened versions of all the tasks they will be asked to perform during the real scan. Younger children may only watch a movie, while slightly older children may be asked to perform tasks such as read sentences/short passages, match pictures to words, listen or watch for matching tone or symbol patterns, etc. We play the recorded scanner sounds during this practice session to try to mimic the real scanning environment as closely as we can. The mock scan takes about 30-40 minutes.

Brain Blast 2017

by Julia Collins 0 Comments

Our very own Stephen Bailey has taken part in organizing Brain Blast 2017! This is a great event for children and even adults to learn more about the brain with interactive exhibits!

Brain Blast 2017
Farrell-Westbrook Agriculture Complex
3108 John A. Merritt Blvd.
Tennessee State University
Saturday, March 11, 2017, 9:00AM to 1:00pm



Brain Blast Flyer (VBI)

Mercedes Spencer joins the Education and Brain Sciences Lab!

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Mercedes Spencer is the newest member of the Cutting lab! She received her Ph.D. in Developmental Psychology from the Florida State University where she worked under Dr. Richard Wagner.  Her current research focuses on examining predictors of individual differences of language and literacy development and the identification of reading difficulties.  Outside of work, she enjoys going to the gym, spending time outdoors, and doing yoga. 
Mercedes Spencer