Nicole Y. Wicha, Ph.D.
Phone: (210) 458-7013
Areas of Specialization
» Bilingual brain
» Human electrophysiology
» Language and math cognition
» Neurobiology of human language
Ph.D. in Cognitive Science; University of California, San Diego
M.S. in Cognitive Science; University of California, San Diego
B.A. in Psychology; University of Texas at San Antonio
B.A. in Spanish; University of Texas at San Antonio
Dr. Wicha's research focuses on understanding how the brain processes language in real time using both behavioral and brain imaging techniques, in particular event-related brain potentials (ERPs), which is a non-invasive direct measure of electrical brain activity with excellent precision in the time domain. Dr. Wicha has used these techniques to study the brain processes underlying language comprehension, such as the predictive nature of sentence comprehension in the monolingual and bilingual brains, and when and how different sources of linguistic information (e.g., grammar and word meaning) affect our ability to understand an utterance. Her findings indicate that the brain processes responsible for different linguistic operations interact over time. Moreover, the brain uses predictive processes to rapidly anticipate upcoming information and facilitate comprehension.
Currently, a primary focus in the lab is in understanding the unique processing capabilities of the bilingual brain. She is funded by the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development and the National Institute of General Medicine Sciences to pursue research on how the bilingual brain predicts and processes two languages simultaneously, such as when reading a sentence that contains language switches, or conversely how bilinguals manage to process one language without interference from the other, as in the bilingual color-word Stroop paradigm.
Dr. Wicha is also pursuing research to understand how language intersects with other aspects of cognition. She is funded by the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development to study how bilinguals access arithmetic facts in each of their languages. She has also worked on how language experience can change basic perception of pitch and tone with Dr. Shalini Narayana (UTHSCSA) and Dr. Peter Pfordresher (SUNY Buffalo).
Dr. Wicha collaborates extensively with investigators who use a cognitive neuroscience approach to study various populations and questions. This includes the interaction between gaze direction and facial emotion in face perception with Dr. Reiko Graham (Texas State University), the effect of alcohol on perception of alcohol-related stimuli with Dr. Graham and Dr. Natalie Ceballos (Texas State University) and how executive function is affected in children with ADHD with Dr. Steven Pliszka (UTHSCSA).
Dr. Wicha loves to share with her students her expertise in ERP methodology, experimental training and knowledge of research in cognitive neuroscience of language through teaching and laboratory mentorship.
Click here for a list of publications.