Waves by Adam Trefonides.

Waves by Adam Trefonides.

The brain is an incredible machine and I'm fascinated by how it coordinates its complex activities in time.  I am interested in communication through speech and music, and how the brain is changed by experience (e.g. playing music). I am especially curious about rhythm, which is present in music and language but also within the brain itself.

Rhythm and speech perception

I am currently a doctoral candidate in the Auditory Neuroscience Laboratory at Northwestern University. My dissertation work is investigating rhythm and temporal processing in the perception of speech in noise, in adult drummers, vocalists and non-musicians. I have discovered that rhythm skills relate with the ability to understand sentences in noise.

Slater J, Kraus N. (2015) The role of rhythm in perceiving speech in noise: A comparison of percussionists, vocalists and non-musicians. Cognitive Processing.

Impact of music training on development

I spent three years working on a longitudinal study looking at the impact of music training on brain development and language skills in elementary school children. This was carried out in collaboration with Harmony Project in L.A. and revealed improvements in speech-in-noise perception and neural processing of speech as well as rhythm skills after music training. 

Slater J, Skoe E, Strait D, O'Connell S, Thompson E, Kraus N (2015) Music training improves speech-in-noise perception: Longitudinal evidence from a community-based music program. Behavioural Brain Research

Krizman J, Slater J, Skoe E, Marian V, Kraus N. (2015) Neural processing of speech in children is influenced by extent of bilingual experience. Neuroscience Letters.

Kraus N, Hornickel J, Strait DL, Slater J, Thompson EC. (2014) Engagement in community music classes sparks neuroplasticity and language development in children from disadvantaged backgrounds. Frontiers in Psychology, Cognitive Science.

Slater J, Strait DL, Skoe E, O’Connell S, Thompson E, Kraus N. (2014) Longitudinal effects of group music instruction on literacy skills in low-income children. PlosOne.

Kraus N, Slater J, Thompson E, Hornickel J, Strait DL, Nicol T, White-Schwoch T. (2014) Auditory learning through active engagement with sound: Biological impact of community music lessons in at-risk children. Frontiers Aud Cogn Neurosci. 8(351).

Kraus N, Slater J, Thompson E, Hornickel J, Strait D, Nicol T and White-Schwoch T (2014) Music enrichment programs improve the neural encoding of speech in at-risk children. Journal of Neuroscience.

Slater J, Tierney A, Kraus N (2013) At-risk elementary school children with one year of classroom music instruction are better at keeping a beat. PlosOne. 8(10): e77250.

Attention and cortical response variability

I worked on an interesting collaboration in my first couple of years in the lab where we investigated relationships between attention and the variability of the brain's response to sound. 

Strait DL, Slater J, O'Connell S, Kraus N (2015) Music training relates to the development of neural mechanisms of selective auditory attention. Developmental Cognitive Neuroscience. 12: 94-104

Strait DL, Slater J, Abecassis V, Kraus N. (2014) Cortical response variability as a developmental index of selective auditory attention. Developmental Science. 17 (2): 175–186.

Book chapters

I have co-authored two chapters about music, language and the brain with my advisor, Dr. Nina Kraus. These are intended for a more general audience.

Kraus N, Slater J (2015) Music and language: relations and disconnections. in The Human Auditory System: Fundamental Organization and Clinical Disorders, 3rd Series. G. Celesia and G. Hickok (eds) Handbook of Clinical Neurology Vol 129. Elsevier, Amsterdam.  

Kraus N, Slater J (in press). Beyond words: How humans communicate through sound. Annual Review of Psychology.