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Meet the Lab Members

Principal Investigator

Nadine Gaab, Ph.D.

Dr. Nadine Gaab is an Assistant Professor of Pediatrics at the Boston Children’s Hospital/Harvard Medical School and a member of the faculty at the Harvard Graduate School of Education. She is a faculty adjunct at Brandeis University. Her research within the Laboratories of Cognitive Neuroscience focuses on the brain correlates of reading development in typical and atypical children as well as possible pre-markers of developmental dyslexia in preschoolers and infants. Dr. Gaab uses functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI), a non-invasive brain imaging tool, as well as behavioral measurement tools to study the reading brain. She is also currently working on various other research topics including: the identification of the underlying neural mechanism of comorbidity of dyslexia and ADHD; the neural correlates of reading fluency, improvement of pediatric functional imaging techniques; brain plasticity following sound and music based remediation programs for reading and language impaired children; and the influence of musical training on executive functioning, language, and reading development. In her work, Dr. Gaab collaborates with several universities in the US (e.g.; Tufts, MIT) and researchers from all over the world (e.g.; China, Brazil). She assigns major significance to the clinical translation of her research as well as community outreach.

Curriculum Vitae

Faculty Page

Postdoctoral Fellows

Yingying Wang, Ph.D.

Yingying's passion in life is to become an outstanding educator and make significant research contributions in the field of brain imaging. Before joining the Gaab Lab in January 2014, she successfully defended her dissertation titled "Integration of fMRI and MEG towards modeling language networks in the brain" under Dr. Scott K. Holland's guidance. The main goal of this dissertation work was to elucidate language networks by integrating fMRI from a group of children who have participated annually in a longitudinal study from their childhood through adolescence and MEG data from the same group of children. During her graduate studies, Yingying learned more imaging techniques like functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging (fMRI) and diffusion tensor imaging (DTI) and published 3 first-author manuscripts. Meanwhile, she has also contributed to a number of other published manuscripts. Prior to her graduate studies, she worked as a research assistant in Dr. Jing Xiang’s Lab at Cincinnati Children's Hospital for 3 years. She collected over 100 children’s brain imaging data using MEG and gained much hands-on research experience. With her diverse background in different imaging modalities, she was delighted to join Dr. Nadine Gaab who is one of the experts in child dyslexia. Yingying aims to learn about dyslexia and use her imaging skills to explore the bio-markers for early identification of children at risk for dyslexia. Her goal is to make even more valuable contributions to brain imaging research in the field of dyslexia. If you want to know more information about Yingying, please visit her personal website:

Xi Yu, Ph.D.

The research interests of Dr. Xi Yu lie in the neural mechanisms underlying the reading and language abilities of human beings. Xi started her research path in the cognitive neuropsychology lab in college. Under the supervision of Dr. Yanchao Bi, she investigated the cognitive model of language processing using neuropsychological approach and gained experiences in conducting behavioral experiments with typical and atypical populations. With the goal to understand the brain function of language, Xi joined in the doctoral program at the University of Hong Kong in 2009. She learned to utilize advanced imaging techniques, such as structural and functional MRI, to unravel the neural mechanisms underlying various cognitive functions. In her PhD project, under Dr. Sam Po Law’s guidance, Xi designed a series of fMRI experiments, investigating the neural bases underlying word class representation at various processing levels, including semantics, word form, and morphosyntax. As an extension to her PhD project, Xi visited Dr. Brenda Rapp’s lab at Johns Hopkins University under the Fulbright Scholarship. She deepened her understanding about word form representations and learned to use multivoxel pattern analyses to capture the characteristic activity patterns associated with reading abilities. After acquiring her PhD in Cognitive neuroscience, Xi joined Gaab Lab in August 2014. She wishes to continue her research in reading and language function from a developmental perspective, and also learn to translate her scientific knowledge to practical application.

Research Study Coordinator

Bryce Becker, Ed.M.

Bryce earned her Bachelor of Arts from the University of California Berkeley where she studied linguistics and German, and her Masters of Education in Language and Literacy from the Harvard Graduate School of Education. During her master's work, she focused on literacy issues faced by students with developmental disabilities as well as English-language learners being misdiagnosed with disabilities. She has extensive experience with psychoeducational assessments, which led her to contributions on several research studies, including Dr. Clancy Blair’s Tools of the Mind research at NYU, Dr. Matthew Schneps’ and Dr. Jennifer Thomson’s work on dyslexia and spatial perception at Harvard, and most importantly, her initial work here at the Gaab Lab. She joined the Gaab Lab in 2011 and is currently working on our BOLD and Infant MRI studies, which explore the early neural markers for dyslexia.

Research Data Coordinator

Danielle Sliva, M.A.

Danielle works conjointly between the Gaab Lab and the Fetal-Neonatal Neuroimaging and Developmental Science Center (FNNDSC) at BCH, and has been working with both labs since 2009. She received her Bachelor of Science with honors in Neuroscience from Lafayette College and her Master of Arts in Bioimaging from Boston University. Danielle is currently responsible for overseeing data processing and organization in the Gaab lab. She has extensive experience carrying out manual image segmentation in infant and adult populations, as well as other pediatric structural and functional MRI analyses. She is passionate about finding ways to improve the safety and efficiency of pediatric MRI, and has helped to develop the lab's current protocol for carrying out non-sedation MRI in infants. During her Master's program, she carried out research with Dr. P. Ellen Grant and Dr. Mathieu Dehaes at the FNNDSC, focusing on functional connectivity in the developing brain and the development of tools for carrying out functional connectivity analysis. Her research interests include structural and functional connectivity, brain development and plasticity, translational neuroscience, and multi-modal neuroimaging.

Doctoral Students

Michael Figuccio, M.A.

Mike is currently a graduate student in Psychology at Boston University. He received his B.A. in Psychology with distinction and his B.S in Human Physiology from Boston University. Mike joined the Gaab lab in September 2010. Mike works on a number of projects exploring the neural correlates of reading. Mike's research interests include developmental neuropsychology and cognitive development.

Ola Ozernov-Palchik, M.S.

Ola is a doctoral student at Tufts in the joint Cognitive Science and Child Development program, and is the coordinator for the READ Study, a collaboration with MIT’s Gabrieli Lab. Ola received her BS degree in Psychology with a minor in Philosophy and her MS in Counseling from Southern Methodist University (SMU) in Dallas. Ola’s experience and interests lie in the intersection of educational and cognitive neuroscience research. She is interested in applying neuroimaging methods to study how children develop the capacity for reading and math; what happens when this development doesn’t follow typical trajectories; and neuroplasticity in response to instructional methods and interventions. Most importantly, Ola is passionate about translating research into practice and policy and tangible help to those who need it. Before joining the Gaab Lab Ola worked at the Institute for Evidence-Based Education at SMU as a Research Associate on several large scale reading and math studies. She also conducted therapy with low-income children and their families in a youth and family center serving several urban public schools. In the Gaab Lab, Ola is studying early markers (neural and behavioral) and predictors of developmental dyslexia using fMRI and ERP.

Jennifer Zuk, Ed.M.

Jennifer Zuk is pursuing her Ph.D. in Speech and Hearing Biosciences and Technology at Harvard University, as well as clinical certification in speech and language pathology at the MGH Institute of Health Professions. Jennifer received dual degrees in Music Education and Cognitive Science from Case Western Reserve University, and her Ed.M. in Mind, Brain, and Education at the Harvard Graduate School of Education. In the Gaab Lab, Jennifer has contributed to the investigation of early markers of dyslexia on the infant and longitudinal MRI studies. She has also explored the relationship between musical training and speech and language abilities. In addition, Jennifer previously researched the influence of singing-based therapy for nonverbal children in the Music & Neuroimaging Lab with Dr. Schlaug at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center. She plans to pursue her doctoral work investigating the mechanisms underlying the deficits in speech and language disorders, and the potential for music to serve as a remediation tool. Jennifer hopes to bridge her interests in education, cognitive neuroscience, language disabilities, and music in future translational clinical research pursuits. She joined the Gaab Laboratory in June 2008.

Research Assistants

Meaghan Mauer

Meaghan joined the Gaab Lab in August 2013 as an undergraduate research assistant while studying at Emmanuel College. She earned her Bachelor of Arts in psychology with a concentration in neuroscience in May 2014 and began full-time work as a research assistant in the lab shortly thereafter. Meaghan is excited to continue to learn and conduct research in language and literacy development from a neuroscience perspective. She hopes to build her research skills and contribute to new findings while working in the Gaab Lab, and in the future she plans to pursue a graduate degree in the field of cognitive neuroscience. Her research interests include neurodevelopmental disorders, with a particular focus on language disorders and music cognition. She hopes to explore the potential therapeutic applications of music in various cognitive disorders.

Talia Raney

Talia received her Bachelor of Arts with honors in Neuroscience and a minor in French from Boston University. Talia joined the Gaab Lab in 2014 and since her start in cognitive neuroscience research, has always been interested in how language is processed in the brain, particularly for those who speak more than one language. As a trilingual speaker (Spanish and French), she has previously contributed to research involving treatment and neuroimaging in bilingual/multilingual aphasia. She has now switched interests to how language develops in the brain and hopes to learn more about neuroimaging methods and the biological markers that can contribute to developmental language disorders.

Research Intern

Lainey Bustos

Lainey is currently a senior earning a B.S. in Human Physiology with a minor in Biology at Boston University. She joined the Gaab Lab in January 2015 after previouslybeing a volunteer at the Boston Children's Hospital inpatient ward. Lainey has previously worked with organizations including a service trip to Ghana (with St. Jude's) where the focus was on community healthcare and clinics in rural areas. In addition, she has pursued a hands-on experience in the Carlson School of Cerebral Palsy (Auckland, New Zealand) as a physiotherapist assistant and teacher's aide. Her interest in cognitive neuroscience was founded through her Neuroanatomy and Neurophysiology course at BU, where she became interested in knowing how physiotherapy can aid and improve the damages of traumatic brain injury.

Lab Consultant

Nicolas Langer, PhD

Nicolas received his PhD in neuropsychology from the University of Zurich (Switzerland). During his PhD he was involved in several research projects in which he studied neural plasticity on the systems level using EEG, fMRI, structural MRI and DTI. His PhD thesis focused on functional brain connectivity in the context of graph-theoretical network analysis to investigate so-called small-world networks. As part of this thesis he implemented new methods on network analyses, which were applied to EEG, fMRI and structural MRI data. Nicolas has conducted several other studies in the context of working memory training, sensorimotor plasticity, music perception, anxiety and crossmodal perception. Beside his scientific work he headed several seminars and workshops and supervised several master students in cognitive neuroscience. Nicolas joined the Gaab Lab 2012 and is currently working as a postdoctoral research fellow. He is simultaneously a postdoctoral research fellow at City College New York and the Child Mind Institute.

Einat Shetreet, PhD

Einat received her PhD in psychology from Tel Aviv University, Israel. She studies language processing using fMRI, focusing on linguistic properties of sentence comprehension. In the Gaab Lab, she examines the cortical representation of semantic and pragmatic properties of sentences in both adults and children. This research is conducted together with Prof. Gennaro Chierchia from the Linguistic Department at Harvard University. She also studies the cortical distinction between different semantic inferences together with Prof. John Gabrieli from MIT and Prof. Gennaro Chierchia.

Nora Raschle, PhD

Nora Raschle received her MA in Neuropsychology from the University of Zurich (Switzerland). During her diploma work she was a research trainee at the Music and Neuroimaging Lab of Prof. Schlaug at the Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center and Harvard Medical School in Boston. Her research included the investigation of the influence of transcranial direct current stimulation (tDCS) on the auditory system. During her Master's Program at the University of Zurich she gained experience working with clinical and psychiatric populations. Nora joined the Gaab Lab at the beginning of 2008 as a visiting pre-doctoral student from the University of Zurich and submitted her thesis ‘Investigating Neural and Behavioral Pre-Markers of Developmental Dyslexia Prior to Reading Onset’ in 2011. Nora is currently working as a postdoctoral research fellow at Kinder- und Jugendpsychiatrischer Dienst, Universitäre Psychiatrische Kliniken, in Basel, Switzerland, but remains a consultant with the Gaab Lab.

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