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Communication sciences and disorders professor wins five-year grant

Patrick Wong, associate professor in Communication Sciences and Disorders in the School of Communication, has won a prestigious Independent Scientist Award from the National Institute on Aging (NIA).

Known as a K02, the Independent Scientist Award is intended to foster the development of outstanding scientists and to enable them to expand their potential to make significant contributions to their field of research, according to the National Institutes of Health, of which the NIA is a part. The award will allow Wong to devote 75 percent of his time over the next five years to research.

"This award will allow me to investigate how older adults learn compared to younger adults, and to examine differences in brain mechanisms behind the learning of these two groups," Wong said. "This research will hopefully guide the design of treatments for older adults who suffer from communication disorders."

Jane Rankin, associate dean for research for the School of Communication, calls Wong's win "especially gratifying" as "only eight percent of applications" for NIA awards were funded during fiscal year 2010, the lowest in NIA history.

Wong earned his PhD in psychology from the University of Texas at Austin. His research concerns central auditory processing and neurophysiology, especially speech perception and learning, auditory skill levels and deficits, and interactions between speech and music. The primary goal is to identify possible underlying neurophysiologic principles governing complex auditory perception and learning for developing effective treatment programs for auditory and speech processing deficits and second language instructions.