A finalist for the PhD Researcher of the Year award in 2018, Vincent’s interdisciplinary research project examines the effects of bilingualism on brain structure, function and cognition, and spans across psychology and clinical language sciences.
“My research is at a cross-section of neuroscience, linguistics and psychology. I study the various neural and cognitive impacts of learning and using an additional language, and how these impacts change the structure, function and cognitive processes of the brain over the course of a lifetime."
Bilingualism is a dynamic and varied experience with many factors that affect its related neural and cognitive outcomes. Vincent’s research is attempting to find out specifically what it is about learning and using an additional language which has these particular effects on the brain. Vincent undertook a variety of scans on bilingual participants to examine different aspects of both their brain structure/connectivity and brain activity, both at rest and while completing a cognitive task.
“My research has shown that individual language experiences relate to both distinct and specific structural changes in the brain and also how it is used to handle cognitively demanding tasks. Moreover, the degree to which this adaptation takes place seems to be determined by the extent to which- or the amount of time someone uses more than one language."
After finishing his master’s degree at the University of Reading, Vincent knew that he had to continue his academic journey onto a PhD here.
"I selected Reading for the expertise and support of my two advisors – their statures in the field and their generosity with time and resource. My work sits at the crossroads of two interdisciplinary research institutes, which highlights the cross-disciplinary strengths of the University. I knew that my work was sure to benefit from the world-leading reputation of the team at Reading".
Vincent has found support and opportunities in many ways since starting his PhD, through the people he works with in the School and in the interdisciplinary research institutes. His research has involved use of world-class facilities in the School, including the fMRI scanner.
“The facilities have allowed me to conduct novel and high-quality research in several domains, and to disseminate my findings to both the academic community through several international conferences and to the general public. The connections Reading shares with other institutions has allowed me to contribute to cutting-edge collaborative work during my studies.”
Vincent's advice for new doctoral researchers
“Things will go wrong during your research, some of which will be preventable and others which will not, given the fluid nature of scientific discovery. All of these experiences are invaluable if you learn from them!”
Following the successful completion of his PhD, Vincent has taken up a role as a postdoctoral research assistant and is continuing his research on the relationship between language and the brain/mind.
Watch Vincent introduce his research