Mary Gates Research Scholar, Autumn 2020
Research Project: Does Blindness Affect the Structure of Heschl’s Gyrus?
Project Description: This project investigates how blindness affects Heschl’s gyrus (a region devoted to auditory processing) structure. Anatomical measurements including the curvature, surface area, grey matter volume and cortical thickness of Heschl’s gyrus will be compared across four groups of participants: anophthalmic, congenitally blind, late blind, and sighted individuals. We predict that there will be differences in Heschl’s gyrus morphology in these individuals based on the existence of sight (e.g., blind vs sighted) and/or the onset of the blindness (e.g., congenital vs late). The result will provide important insights on the mechanisms of brain plasticity, especially how cortical structure can change in non-deprived sensory areas of the brain.
What have you learned throughout your project?
The research process provides a very clear picture of how academic research would look like, giving a sense of whether or not grad school is my right fit. I got to work closely with data and brain imaging techniques. Moreover, I really cherish the opportunity to know my mentors for this project. They taught me a lot and guided me on my academic path.
What piece of advice would you give to future Mary Gates Scholarship applicants?
In addition to the writing prompt, it is also very important to provide a rough timeline for your proposed project. Giving a detailed project plan shows your passion and commitment to your project.