University of Memphis Doctoral Student Awarded NIH F31 Fellowship

Kelsey MankelKelsey Mankel, PhD student in Communication Sciences & Disorders (Neuroscience Concentration), was recently awarded a NIH F31 NRSA fellowship from the National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders for her project entitled "Neural bases of successful auditory learning."

This project focuses on learning to map sounds to meaning and is fundamental to speech and language acquisition. By measuring neuroelectric signals via scalp-recorded electroencephalography (EEG) during training tasks, this research will assess where and when in the brain successful category learning occurs. Results will reveal how individual differences in neural function contribute to behavioral learning and may inform future brain-based interventions in educational, therapeutic, and/or rehabilitative applications.

“I decided to pursue my PhD at the UofM School of Communication Sciences and Disorders (CSD) because of their individualized programs of study, emphasis on mentorship, and opportunities for interdisciplinary collaboration with excellent faculty,” stated Mankel. “I hoped that studying in a CSD program would not only provide me with foundational knowledge in hearing science, but also expose me to ways in which my research could be applied in audiologic disorders and clinical or rehabilitative settings in order to improve overall hearing health and quality of life in patients.”

The award provides $91,040 over two years. As a fourth-year doctoral student working in the Auditory Cognitive Neuroscience Lab of Dr. Gavin Bidelman (faculty sponsor), this grant will fund her remaining doctoral studies at UofM and provide protected time for dedicated research training.

“The NIH F31 is designed to accelerate early career development and jump start a young scientist's career in research,” stated Dr. Gavin Bidelman, associate professor, School of Communication Sciences and Disorders. “This grant will allow Kelsey to train in state-of-the-art human brain imaging techniques at the University of Memphis. Her studies will uncover how the brain learns to map sounds to meaning, which is highly relevant for understanding not only normal language development but also its disorders."

For more information about the Auditory Cognitive Neuroscience Lab, visit: memphis.edu/acnl