BRAMS – CRBLM Lecture Series: Student Presentation by Nicole Eichert
What are the brain specializations underlying human vocal control?
Abstract: Human speech is a highly complex behavior that relies on evolutionary adaptations of the human brain. One of the suggested critical differences within the primate lineage is motor control of the larynx. We are investigating the cortical specialization underlying laryngeal motor control using functional neuroimaging and comparative neuroanatomy.We localized the cortical representation of the larynx in humans during voicing using fMRI and studied how the functional activation patterns relate to individual sulcal morphology. In order to study critical brain specializations in a comparative framework, we use a ‘common space’ approach that can account for both shared and distinct features across species. We developed a surface-based cross-species registration that allows us to study how cortical reorganization during evolution affected the relative location of brain areas and connectivity profiles. Using the ‘common space’ approach, we can test the effect of different evolutionary scenarios on the brain architecture related to laryngeal motor control.
Short bio: Nicole Eichert is a Ph.D. student in Neuroscience at the Wellcome Centre for Integrative Neuroscience (WIN), University of Oxford, UK. She is working with Prof. Kate Watkins (Speech and Brain Lab) and Prof. Rogier B. Mars (Neuroecology & Anatomy Lab). Currently, Nicole is visiting the MNI in Montreal to work with Prof. Michael Petrides. For her Master’s degree, Nicole studied at the Graduate School of Neural & Behavioural Sciences in Tübingen, Germany, and at the Max Planck Institute for Psycholinguistics in Nijmegen, The Netherlands.