August 31, 2017
Tagged: Derner School of Psychology, Ruth S. Ammon School of Education, Department of Biology, Communication Sciences and Disorders

Adelphi University Charts New Territory in Speech Pathology and Training Students in Neuroscience Research

Adelphi University


Adelphi students working with a sensor net for EEG

This course is a first for Adelphi University, and a rarity for the field as a whole. Most EEG classes are only offered for neuroscience students, despite EEG’s increasing value for the field of speech-language pathology.

“EEG is ideal for examining speech and language processing in people who have communication disorders because it’s not invasive,” says Dr. Randazzo. “It can tell us how speech sounds are represented in the brain and how people perceive language. These are important questions that help us to learn more about diagnosing these disorders, and it helps us generate new treatments or advance the treatment in the field.”

Students jumped at the opportunity to gain hands-on experience and begin their own neuroscience research.

“I gave students the option to work on an idea and develop a proposal to present on Research Day—Adelphi’s annual student research conference,” says Dr. Randazzo. “Every student in the class opted to do this, and some of them won awards, which was really exciting.”

Dr. Randazzo then offered two EEG labs in the summer. These labs allowed the master’s degree students to learn how to use the equipment and build their own experiments.

 photo of speech pathology students anaylzing their work on a computer

“I didn’t think I was going to get students who were so dedicated that they wanted to spend their summer in the lab,” says Dr. Randazzo. “Now we have about four functioning experiments that have been developed by our speech-language pathology master’s students.”

The student experiments range from researching language representation in adults with aphasia to studying conflict effects in language representation in adults who stutter.

“Few departments are able to offer master’s degree students such unique opportunities for research engagement,” says Reem Khamis-Dakwar, Ph.D., associate professor and chair of the Department of Communication Sciences and Disorders at Adelphi. “The incorporation of neuroscience in investigating communication disorders and speech therapy makes our clinicians both well-rounded and highly trained in multiple aspects of the profession.”

The department is also developing a new teaching and training lab in Linen Hall.

“We’re going to teach classes out of that lab, so we can now expand the class for undergraduates and they’ll have hands-on lab experience doing EEG,” Dr. Randazzo says.

This will help Adelphi support a new generation of Ph.D. students in the field of speech pathology, which is sorely lacking in clinicians who conduct original research.

“We have a shortage of Ph.D.s in our field,” says Dr. Randazzo. “This, to me, is especially problematic because our field is predominantly women. We always talk about how women are underrepresented in science or neuroscience, but we’re not giving them the tools that they need to pursue this or to even know that they want to.”

If the response from the students is any indication, undergraduates should welcome this opportunity with open arms.

“Our master’s students are very proud of themselves for taking this leap,” Dr. Randazzo says. “Several of them told me they never thought that they could do something like this or that they would like it so much. I think they’re taking a lot of pride in knowing that Adelphi is a leader in our field.”

Tagged: Derner School of Psychology, Ruth S. Ammon School of Education, Department of Biology, Communication Sciences and Disorders