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. The primary foci of the lab involve:
- Neural time course of language comprehension
- Lexical access and cognitive control
- Interface between language and other cognitive processes
Current research: The Math Brain Study
Dr. Wicha's lab is currently focused on determining the developmental trajectory of multiplication fact learning in bilingual children. Children transition from solving simple multiplication problems procedurally (e.g., counting) to retrieving arithmetic facts from verbal memory. Her goal is to determine if this transition between strategies is quantifiable developmentally as children become experienced multipliers, and if bilingual children make this transition in only one language or in both. The outcome of these studies will determine how both bilingual children learn and use simple multiplications in each of their languages. This work could help identify malleable factors that could increase math fluency in bilingual children, potentially impacting 11.4 million school children, or 21% of the US school population.