Educational Neuroscience of Reading Symposium

Symposium Description

This free symposium convened a multidisciplinary group of researchers, educators, and policymakers to discuss the neural bases of reading and its implications for teaching and learning. They discussed the current research on:

  • how written language is processed by the brain
  • how different aspects of reading are reflected in neural responses
  • how the neural circuitry of reading might differ for individuals with

Symposium Videos

Keynote Speakers

Professor Usha Goswami CBE, FRS, FBA, is a researcher and professor of Cognitive Developmental Neuroscience at the University of Cambridge, a Fellow of St. John's College, Cambridge, and the director of the Centre for Neuroscience in Education. She obtained her Ph.D. in developmental psychology from the University of Oxford before becoming a professor of cognitive developmental psychology at the University College London. Goswami's work is primarily in educational neuroscience with major focuses on reading development and developmental dyslexia.

Formerly a primary school teacher, Professor Goswami has received many honors and awards acknowledging her research contributions to educational neuroscience, including the British Psychology Society Spearman Medal (for early career research excellence), the Norman Geschwind-Rodin Prize (a Swedish award for research excellence in the field of dyslexia). Her work has been funded through research fellowships from the National Academy of Education (USA), the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation (Germany), and the Leverhulme Trust (UK). She has served on the National Curriculum and the National Literacy Project, the Foresight Project on Mental Capital and Wellbeing, and the Managing Committee of the European Concerted Action on Learning Disorders as a Barrier to Human Development. In 2013 she was selected as a Fellow of the British Academy, awarded to those with academic distinction in their research. Goswami has also been a member of several research boards including the ESRC Research Grants Board (1998-2000), the Neurosciences and Mental Health Board of the Medical Research Council (1999-2003), and the Cross Board Group of the Medical Research Council (2001-2003). Usha Goswami was awarded the Yidan Prize for Education Research in September 2019 for her ground-breaking neuroscience research in understanding brain function, which allows educators to design different teaching pedagogy, techniques and tools to help children with dyslexia and special needs to learn languages more effectively.

Goswami was appointed Commander of the Order of the British Empire (CBE) in the 2021 New Year Honors, for services to educational research; and was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society in May 2021.


Professor John D. Gabrieli is a neuroscientist at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and a senior Investigator at the McGovern Institute for Brain Research. He is the Grover Hermann Professor of Health Sciences and Technology, a faculty member in the department of Brain and Cognitive Sciences, and director of the Athinoula A. Martinos Imaging Center, part of the McGovern Institute. Gabrieli is an expert on the brain mechanisms of human cognition, including memory, thought and emotion. His work includes neuroimaging studies across the lifespan, with a specific emphasis on the neural processes that support reading and learning. He has also investigated multiple brain disorders, including schizophrenia, depression, Alzheimer's disease, autism, and – especially ­– dyslexia.

As a graduate student with Suzanne Corkin at MIT he carried out research with the famous HM, who was a globally amnesic patient as a result of epileptic surgery. Gabrieli was among the first to demonstrate the importance of the parahippocampal cortex in the formation of memories. In collaboration with Christopher deCharms and colleagues he was the first to demonstrate that human subjects could learn to control their own brain activity using real-time feedback from functional MRI.

In 2008, Gabrieli was elected as a fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, which cited his "penetrating analyses of the nature of human memory, its neural substrates, its development, and its problems." His current research is focused on the use of brain imaging to identify children who are at risk for reading difficulties and to understand how reading instruction affects the brain.


Jason Borges

Executive Director of NYC Public Schools Literacy Collaborative, Department of Curriculum and Instruction, New York City Department of Education

Jason Borges is a literacy leader and specialist. His journey began in teaching over twenty years ago in alternative schools in Massachusetts for students with disabilities. He has served in the Special Education Office in the NYC DOE as Senior Director of Intensive Interventions and Director of Academic Intervention Services in the Office of Curriculum, Instruction, and Professional Learning. Jason sees literacy as a foundation for educational justice. He is committed to continue serving NYC DOE schools as Executive Director of Literacy and AIS in developing literacy environments where all students learn skills that will help them engage with and adapt to changing media, contexts, and to use knowledge towards a more just world.


Dr. Karen Froud is Associate Professor of Neuroscience and Education at Columbia University's Teachers College. Originally trained in the UK (and certified in the United States) as a speech-language pathologist, she has worked extensively with clinical populations from children with speech sound disorders to adults with severe neurological disabilities. Dr. Froud’s doctoral and post-doctoral work was conducted in theoretical linguistics and neurosciences, at University College London and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. She joined the Teachers College faculty in 2003 and is now Program Director for Neuroscience & Education, and lead investigator of the Neurocognition of Language Lab.

Dr. Froud has provided consultation, clinical services, and professional training around the world. She consulted for Save the Children’s Education Cannot Wait project to develop ecologically valid educational assessments for children in refugee camps; she provided the first graduate-level trainings in cognitive psychological assessment for speech-language pathologists in Sri Lanka; and she continues to support clinical service provision and disability outreach for resource-poor communities in rural Cambodia. She is a certified Institutional Review Board (IRB) professional with expertise in research compliance and the ethical conduct of research with human participants in diverse communities.

Research in Dr. Froud’s lab uses brain imaging techniques to investigate questions about the neuroscience of language, learning, and cognitive processing across the lifespan, with an emphasis on multilingualism, literacy, and speech-language impairment. Her work centers the importance of pedagogical and clinical applications for effective communication, language, and learning for all.


Event Organizers


Karen Froud, Ph.D. Associate Professor of Neuroscience & Education

Lisa Levinson, Ph.D. Lecturer, Program in Neuroscience & Education

Chaille Maddox, Ph.D. Senior Research Scientist, Neuorocognition of Language Lab

Paul Smith, M.S. Manager, Neurocognition of Language Lab


Email questions to

To request disability-related accommodations, contact OASID at, or 212-678-3689, (646) 755-3144 video phone, as soon as possible.

Back to skip to quick links