Seattle resident Niklas Krumm, who received his Johns Hopkins University undergraduate degree in neuroscience May 17, has been awarded a grant from the Fulbright Student Program for the 2007-2008 academic year. He is one of 17 Johns Hopkins students and graduates so far this year to receive a Fulbright grant, one of the most prestigious awards in academia.
Krumm, 21, will travel to Berlin to study the cognitive systems responsible for the phonological and working memory functions in the brain. His research — which will be divided into two parts — will be conducted in a neurocognitive psychology laboratory at the Free University in Berlin, the largest state university in Germany. In his first project, Krumm will use a mobile reading lab — called the "Guckomobile" — and an eye-tracking recorder to diagnose dyslexia at an early age so that children are less likely to be classified as "slow learners."
The early-intervention program will allow Krumm and other researchers to catch early indicators of dyslexia, such as aberrant eye-movements. According to Krumm, "It is estimated that 7 to 10 percent of children experience some dyslexia/dysgraphia — a specific reading/spelling impairment, respectively — and early diagnosis of such a disorder could spare many years of schooling and failed instruction."
Concurrently, Krumm will study how high-level cognitive and emotional cues can either help or hinder a person's ability to remember spoken sentences and words.
"The ultimate goal of the research is to better understand how the brain processes languages," he said. "Understanding language is one of the highest goals of the brain sciences, as it represents some of the most complex systems and functions in our brain." Because of its grammatical complexities, German lends itself to more interesting experiments than the English language, according to Krumm.
Created in 1946, the Fulbright Program aims to increase mutual understanding between the people of the United States and other countries through the exchange of people, knowledge and skills. The program awards approximately 1,000 grants annually and currently operates in more than 140 countries. Successful U.S. applicants utilize their grants to undertake self- designed programs in a broad range of disciplines including the social sciences, business, communication, performing arts, physical sciences, engineering and education.
Krumm also earned a scholarship known as the DAAD from the German Academic Exchange Service and funded by the German government, but he declined the award in order to pursue his studies through the Fulbright program. Krumm lives in Seattle and is a native of Berlin. His parents, Tony Krumm and Karin Berghoefer- Krumm, reside in Seattle. For more information on the Fulbright program, go to www.iie.org.
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