Symposium on "The Developing Brain" at HKU [fr]
The Faculty of Education, Hong Kong University and its Associate Dean Prof. Brendan Weekes organized the symposium "The Developing Brain" on Friday December 11, 2015. This symposium presented some of the last findings in brain development, language acquisition and literacy. Prof. Ghislaine Dehaene-Lambertz and Prof. Stanislas Dehaene, two renowned French researchers, were among the speakers.
"The Developing Brain" symposium began with an introduction by Prof. Brendan Weekes and a short speech from Mr. Eric Berti, Consul General of France in Hong Kong and Macau, who focused on the fruitful scientific cooperation between France and Hong Kong and introduced to the audience the prestigious Collège de France, a research institution of which Prof. Stanislas Dehaene is a member.
Mr. Eric Berti and Prof. Brendan Weekes
Prof. Ghislaine Dehaene-Lambertz (Cognitive Neuroimaging Unit, Inserm /CEA, Neurospin Center, Saclay, France) first presented her studies on language acquisition in humans. She discussed how the results obtained during the first months of life in children using functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) and electroencephalography, can allow us to understand the developmental steps underlying the language acquisition.
Prof. Ghislaine Dehaene-Lambertz
Dr. Xiujuan Geng (Research Assistant Professor in the State Key Laboratory for Brain and Cognitive Science, and the Laboratory of Neuropsychology and Laboratory of Social Cognitive and Affective Neuroscience at the University of Hong Kong) then shared her insight into the brain development (neurons myelination during the first two years of life) using a specific magnetic resonance imaging technique: DTI, Diffusion Tensor Imaging or Diffusion MRI.
Dr. Nandini Chatterjee Singh (National Brain Research Centre, India) was the first speaker to focus on literacy. She presented her studies investigating the neural mechanisms of reading in young and adults Hindi-English biliterates, demonstrating an other evidence of brain plasticity. Similar regions of the brain are recruited for reading in both children and adults and the functional connectivity across these regions continues to evolve with age and reading experience.
Pr. Stanislas Dehaene (Collège de France, Chair of Experimental Psychology, director of the Cognitive Neuroimaging Unit, Inserm/CEA) continued on reading, this cultural invention allowing us to have a "conversation with the deceased" and "listen to the dead with the eyes" quoting the Spanish poet Francisco de Quevedo. By studying the brain of literate and illiterate adults in Brazil and Portugal, Prof. Stanislas Dehaene’s studies have shown that during reading acquisition, the brain circuitry recycles several of its pre-existing visual and auditory areas in order to reorient them to the processing of letters and phonemes. These changes imply important consequences for education.
Prof. Brendan Weekes and Prof. Stanislas Dehaene connecting with Prof. Michael Thomas in London
The symposium finally ended with a live video-talk from Prof. Michael Thomas from London (Institute of Cognitive Neuroscience, UCL, School of Psychology, Birkbeck College).
More information about the symposium and the speakers on HKU website.