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NSF Awards $3.5 Million to Collaborative Temporal Dynamics of Learning Center; Tallal to Head Rutgers Team
Contact: Helen Paxton, Rutgers-Newark, 973.353.5262, firstname.lastname@example.org, or Carla Capizzi, 973/353-5262, email@example.com
A better understanding of how humans learn, and the role that timing plays in learning, could lead to improved teaching techniques and, along the way, alter the trajectories of countless human lives.
Thanks to a National Science Foundation (NSF) grant for $3.5 million, with the possibility of an additional $32 million over the next decade, a UC San Diego-based interdisciplinary team of scientists, together with major participation from Rutgers University at Newark, Vanderbilt University and other U.S. and international institutions, are poised to clarify the importance of time in learning. Dr. Paula Tallal, Rutgers Board of Governors Professor of Neuroscience and co-director of the Center for Molecular and Behavioral Neuroscience (CMBN) at Rutgers University in Newark, will head the Rutgers team.
When you learn the sounds of your language, interact with colleagues and teachers, become proficient at sports or playing a musical instrument, or engage in countless other learning activities, timing plays a critical role in the functioning of your neurons, in the communication between and within sensory and motor systems, and in the interactions between different regions of your brain, explains Paula Tallal. The success or failure of interpersonal communication and social interaction using gestures, facial expressions and verbal language also depend critically on exact timing.
Gary Cottrell, a Computer Science and Engineering professor from UCSDs Jacobs School of Engineering, is the founder of the Temporal Dynamics of Learning Center as well as its co-director and a participating researcher. Cottrell recruited over 40 researchers from across the United States, Canada, and Australia to participate in the effort. Included in this team are Tallal and three other Rutgers-Newark scientists: Board of Governors Professor of Molecular and Behavioral Neuroscience Gorgy Buzski, Professor of Neuroscience April Benasich and Assistant Professor of Neuroscience Kenneth D. Harris.
Dr. Tallal's years of research at CMBN have already yielded ground-breaking innovations to help individuals with learning problems. Rutgers is very pleased to be teaming up with our colleagues at UCSD to further advance our knowledge of the learning process and the impact that this can have on society, says Rutgers President Richard L. McCormick.
The Temporal Dynamics of Learning Center will integrate its research and educational mission through the Education Outreach Center that will be co-directed by Rutgers Tallal and Terry Sejnowski from the Salk Institute for Biological Studies.
Creating a Science of Learning Center with our colleagues from Rutgers and from Vanderbilt is really an exciting development that is consistent with the mission and vision for this campus. It will be a wonderful multidisciplinary center, said UCSD Chancellor Marye Anne Fox.
Center-affiliated researchers will be aiming to enhance and disseminate existing research-based learning initiatives, such as the language and reading intervention product, FastForWord (co-developed by Tallal); a face and emotion recognition training system for autistic children called Lets Face It; the robotic preschool teaching assistant, RUBI; as well as develop new translational research initiatives.
The centers goals will be enhanced by the participation of corporate partners, including the Scientific Learning Corporation and Jensen Learning Corporation, both K-12 education companies. The Science Network -- a non-profit, online TV network developed by Roger Bingham, a researcher affiliated with UCSD and the Salk Institute for Biological Studies is expected to grow to disseminate information from the center and may be used as a vehicle to educate the public and policy makers in order to inject science into the discussion of education reform.