Shanna Murray ’14: Mapping Language

By Beth Walk

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The Research

Shanna Murray’s research lies at the intersection of her two majors: cognitive science and Romance languages. Her work relates to a series of studies using functional magnetic resonance imaging to examine an area in the brain where representations of words we are familiar with are housed. She is comparing differences in this part of the brain between hearing individuals and those who can read and write but who are deaf and unable to produce speech normally. Murray aims to show that the patterns of brain activity in response to visual word forms differ among these two groups.

In Her Own Words

“What excites me most about my research is that what I’ve learned barely scrapes the surface. Despite incredible progress, our understanding of how the brain works is far from complete. Advancements in neuroimaging technology and research will allow us to gain a better understanding of how language and other cognitive processes are instantiated in the brain. I’ve gained a new appreciation for the incredible amount of work that goes into it, and for the challenges in making sense of multidimensional data.”

Adviser: Brenda Rapp, Professor, Cognitive Science