Posts classified under: Research Areas (FARs)

Shulamite Green, Ph.D.

Biography

Dr. Shulamite Green is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Psychiatry and Biobehavioral Sciences at UCLA’s Semel Institute. Dr. Green received a Ph.D. in Clinical Psychology at UCLA in 2014. Thereafter, she completed a postdoctoral fellowship at the UCLA Ahmanson-Lovelace Brain Mapping Center with a focus on pediatric neuroimaging. Dr. Green is currently the director of the Sensory, Cognitive, and Affective Neurodevelopment (SCAN) lab. Dr. Green’s research integrates multiple neuroimaging techniques with behavioral and psychophysiological methodology to determine the biological mechanisms underlying clinical symptoms in a way that can be directly translated to creating interventions and improving quality of life. Much of Dr. Green’s current research is focused on the neurobiological bases of sensory over-responsivity, a common and impairing condition in which individuals over-react to sensory stimuli in their environments, causing challenges with participation in school, work, family life, and the community. Dr. Green conducted some of the first fMRI work demonstrating brain differences in children with autism spectrum disorders (ASD) specifically related to sensory over-responsivity, as well as identifying potential brain mechanisms through which some children with ASD regulate their sensory responses. She has continued to build on this work to identify how certain brain areas contribute to or regulate these difficulties and interfere with or facilitate attention and social functioning.

Dr. Green also has a strong interest in the impact of parenting and early caregiving adversity on development, with much of her early work focused on how parenting can confer resilience for children with developmental disabilities. Her current NIH-funded K08 career development award is focused on examining how common and distinct neural, behavioral, and clinical correlates of sensory over-responsivity in children adopted from foster care compared to those with autism.

In addition to the K08 award, Dr. Green’s work has been funded by multiple NIH grants, including a recent R01 from NIMH to study the development of sensory regulation across childhood and adolescence, and has been published in prominent scientific journals including JAMA Psychiatry , the American Journal of Psychiatry , the Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry, and Translational Psychiatry . Dr. Green is also the recipient of a dissertation award from the International Society for Autism Research as well as a Brain and Behavioral Research Institute Young Investigator Award.

Dr. Green is passionate about mentoring as well as promoting justice, equity, diversity, and inclusion (JEDI) in her lab, the department, and academia in general. She co-leads the teaching and mentoring JEDI group for the Center for Autism Research and Treatment (CART), and holds monthly JEDI meetings in her lab.

Clinically, Dr. Green serves as the autism specialist for UCLA TIES for Families, a program that provides extensive inter-disciplinary services for families adopting children from foster care. Dr. Green conducts autism evaluations and consultations for therapists working with families in this program.

View a up-to-date publication list: NCBI

Idan Blank, Ph.D.

Research and Teaching Interests:

I study how we understand language—a phenomenon that is universal across human cultures, yet unique to our species, and allows us to transmit thoughts from one mind to another. What are the component processes of comprehension? What kind of mental structures allow us to “know the meaning” of an utterance? Which distinctions in meaning do these structures make more/less salient? And what mental operations are used to manipulate them?

To understand how comprehension evolves in our minds, I study how it engages our brains: which aspects of comprehension get their own dedicated neural real estate? Which are inseparable, supported by a joint mechanism? And which rely on circuits that serve many domains beyond language? Using neuroimaging (mostly functional MRI), tools from network neuroscience, and a combination of hypothesis- and data-driven approaches, I characterize the functional regions engaged when adult native speakers understand language: their internal organization and relationship to one another (dissociable vs. tightly linked); the division of “mental labor” and the integration of information across them; and the ways they change following brain injuries.

I also use computational methods to evaluate meaning representations that are generated by algorithms trained on natural texts. I examine what knowledge—about words, their combinations, and the underlying concepts—is captured by these representations, and compare it against behavioral benchmarks. I test which features of the linguistic input are minimally required for machines to extract this knowledge.

Biography:

Idan A. Blank will join UCLA as an Assistant Professor of Psychology in July 2019. He received his PhD (2016) in Cognitive Science from MIT, working with Nancy Kanwisher and Ev Fedorenko, and continued working with Ev as a postdoctoral associate at the McGovern Institute for Brain Research. Prior to that, he studied mathematics, psychology, and theatre arts in the Lautman Interdisciplinary Program at Tel-Aviv University, where he received his MA (2011) working with Galit Yovel.

Idan Blank’s Curriculum Vitae

Representative Publications:

Mineroff, Z.*, Blank, I.A.*, Mahowald, K., & Fedorenko, E. (2018) A robust dissociation among the language, multiple demand, and default mode networks: evidence from inter-region correlations in effect size. Neuropsychologia, 119, 501-511. DOI: 10.1016/j.neuropsychologia.2018.09.011

Blank, I.A., Kiran, S., & Fedorenko, E. (2017). Can neuroimaging help aphasia researchers? Addressing generalizability, variability, and interpretability. Cognitive Neuropsychology, 34(6), 377-393. DOI: 10.1080/02643294.2017.1402756

Blank, I.A. & Fedorenko, E. (2017) Domain-general brain regions do not track linguistic input as closely as language-selective regions. Journal of Neuroscience, 37(41), 9999–10011. DOI: 10.1523/JNEUROSCI.3642-16.2017

Blank, I., Balewski, Z., Mahowald, K. & Fedorenko, E. (2016). Syntactic processing is distributed across the language system. Neuroimage, 127, 307-323. DOI: 10.1016/j.neuroimage.2015.11.069

Blank, I., Kanwisher, N. & Fedorenko, E. (2014). A functional dissociation between language and multiple demand regions revealed in patterns of BOLD fluctuations. Journal of Neurophysiology, 112(5): 1105-1118. DOI: 10.1152/jn.00884.2013

Grand, G.*, Blank, I.A.*, Pereira, F., & Fedorenko, E. (submitted) Semantic projection: recovering human knowledge of multiple, distinct object features from word-embeddings. arXiv:1802.01241