Meet our Faculty - Dr. Elana Zion Golumbic

Meet our Faculty - Dr. Elana Zion Golumbic (Enlarge)

Meet Dr. Elana Zion Golumbic, Founding Head of the Human Brain Dynamics Lab at BIU’s Leslie and Susan Gonda (Goldschmied) Multidisciplinary Brain Research Center. Dr. Zion Golumbic studies the ways in which the brain processes complex information such as language, speech and music, and attempts to decipher the correlation between all the data input.

 

“We are exposed to constant stimuli,” says Dr. Zion Golumbic. “The most interesting part of our lab research is examining how the brain filters irrelevant information. For instance, to understand listening and verbal abilities, we created a virtual environment of a group of people sitting in a café across from a virtual figure. At the surrounding tables we positioned additional figures who are also talking,, We listened to the figures,  turned their volume up or down and monitored the brainwaves of those listening to someone in a noisy setting. We simultaneously monitored physiological factors like eye movement and heart rhythm. These neural and behavioral measures help us identify the brain’s response to success or failure, and through that to understand how the brain can listen to several speakers at once.”

 

Another objective of research conducted at the Human Brain Dynamics Lab is to analyze listening abilities in a wide range of people – from those with ADD or ADHD to those with exceptional listening abilities. “The objective is to understand how a brain with outstanding listening skills functions in order to overcome the difficulties faced by brain damaged people,” explains Dr. Zion Golumbic. “Based on this knowledge we will be able to develop improved diagnostic techniques and training technologies for the general public, for people coping with ADHD and brain trauma, and for the elderly.”

 

This research can also be applied to Parkinson’s patients, via music therapy. “When we hear music or identify a tempo, we tap our feet, clap our hands, bob our heads, and generally move our bodies. This is an indication of the strong correlation between our hearing abilities and our motor skills. Our research shows that people perceive rhythms differently. Listening to music, some people might get up and dance, while others won’t be able to clap to the beat. These abilities depend on the level of correlation between a person’s hearing and motor skills. Studying Parkinson’s patients, we found that improving this specific correlation can help or improve their walking, which is one of the most difficult functions for a Parkinson’s patient. Additionally, we found a connection between the ability to identify a musical beat and verbal skills among children with speech impediments. This led us to understand that tempo-based training can improve verbal skills.”

 

For more about the research done at the Human Brain Dynamics Lab, click here.