Brain development expert Dr. Patricia Kuhl to speak on "How Infants Crack the Speech Code" on Aug. 23, 2010

by Kathleen McCoy  |   

Monday, Aug. 23, 7:30 p.m. Wendy Williamson Auditorium

Dr. Patricia Kuhl is a renowned expert on early learning. She will give a free public lecture in the Wendy Williamson Auditorium on Monday, Aug. 23, at 7:30 p.m. titled "How Infants Crack the Speech Code:  Exploring Minds in the Making Using the Tools of Modern Neuroscience."  Dr. Kuhl will discuss new discoveries about how early exposure to language alters brain function and learning. By studying the interaction between biology and culture along with social interaction and the precursors to language, this research aids in the identification of children at risk for developing language disabilities such as autism.

Dr. Patricia KuhlEarlier this year, the Institute for Learning & Brain Sciences, of which Kuhl is a co-director, opened a new $7 million I-LABS MEG Brain Imaging Center on the University of Washington Campus, housing the first brain imaging device in the world optimized for neuroscientific study in infants and young children. Dr. Kuhl is a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, the Rodin Academy, and the Norwegian Academy of Science and Letters, and is a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, the Acoustical Society of America, and the American Psychological Society. Dr. Kuhl was awarded the Silver Medal of the Acoustical Society of America in 1997. In 2005, she was awarded the Kenneth Craik Research Award from Cambridge University. She received the University of Washington's Faculty Lectureship Award in 1998. In 2007, Dr. Kuhl was awarded the University of Minnesota's Outstanding Achievement Award. In 2008, Dr. Kuhl was one of 30 scientists worldwide invited to present their work at a Nobel Symposium entitled, 'Brain, Genes, and Behavior'-she was the only scientist representing human development. In Paris in 2008, Dr. Kuhl was awarded the Gold Medal of the American Institute of Physics for her work on early learning and brain development. In 2010, Dr. Kuhl was elected to the National Academy of Sciences.

Dr. Kuhl has participated in policy discussions related to early learning under two White House administrations. She was one of six scientists invited to the White House in 1997 to make a presentation at President and Mrs. Clinton's Conference on "Early Learning and the Brain." In 2001, Dr. Kuhl was invited to make a presentation at President and Mrs. Bush's White House Summit on "Early Cognitive Development: Ready to Read, Ready to Learn." In 2001, she co-authored The Scientist in the Crib: Minds, Brains, and How Children Learn (Morrow Press).

Dr. Kuhl's work has been widely covered by the media. She has appeared in the Discovery television series "The Baby Human"; the NOVA series "The Mind"; the "The Power of Ideas" on PBS; and "The Secret Life of the Brain," also on PBS. She has discussed her research findings on early learning and the brain on The Today Show, Good Morning America, CBS Evening News, NBC Nightly News, NHK, CNN, and in The New York Times, Time and Newsweek.

The University Honors College is hosting Dr. Kuhl's visit; she will also give the keynote address at Freshman Convocation. For more information, call (907) 786-1086 or visit

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