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Student Profile: Brittany Manning

Background: Communication Sciences and Disorders; SLP
Research: co-occurrence of cognitive, social, and behavioral challenges in children with language disorders

What were your previous program(s) of study or experiences?

I completed B.S. and M.S. programs in Communication Sciences and Disorders at the University of Wisconsin-Madison where I worked in two different speech and language research labs. My most recent project was helping to develop a literacy curriculum for dialect speakers. I am also a certified speech-language pathologist and worked at a pediatric speech and language clinic in Chicago for 4 years before returning to pursue my PhD.

What are your research interests?

I am interested in the co-occurrence of cognitive, social, and behavioral challenges in children with language disorders. In my clinical practice, I rarely worked with children with isolated weaknesses. Instead, I often worked on a team with teachers, psychologists, occupational therapists, and other specialists to best support children. I became interested in how often these weaknesses co-occur as well as how weaknesses in related skills, such as attention, impact a child’s ability to learn language.

What is a project that are you working on now?

I work in Dr. Elizabeth Norton’s Language, Education, and Reading Neuroscience Lab. We are working on a project investigating brain similarities between mothers and toddlers during interaction and play. This may help us better measure social engagement, an important skill for language development.

What made you choose Northwestern’s CSD department?

I wanted to study in a CSD department in order to answer clinically-relevant research questions. I chose Northwestern in order to work with Dr. Norton, who is an expert in children’s language, literacy, and brain development. In my research, I hope to combine behavioral measures as well as brain measures, such as EEG, in order to investigate language skills. Northwestern allows me to train under developmental cognitive neuroscientists like Dr. Norton as well as clinician scientists like Dr. Megan Roberts.

What resources or characteristics of Northwestern enable your research?

I am currently using our lab’s EEG system in my research and have access to other technologies such as an MRI scanner and eye tracking system. In addition to the translational CSD coursework, I have also been able to take graduate courses in the Interdepartmental Neuroscience Program and Psychology Department here at Northwestern.

What are your professional goals?

I hope to continue my career as a professor in the field of CSD.