Monica Wagner

Undergraduate Program CoordinatorAssociate Professor

Dr. Wagner is an Associate Professor in the department, Communication Sciences and Disorders, with a joint appointment in Psychology. She has received an M. A. in Speech-Language Pathology from Queens College of the City University of New York (CUNY) and an M. Phil. and Ph.D. in Speech-Language-Hearing Sciences from The Graduate Center (CUNY). Dr. Wagner is certified by the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA) and licensed by New York State to practice as a Speech-Language Pathologist and to provide clinical services within the public schools.

Dr. Wagner’s behavioral and electrophysiology research in adults and children aims to uncover brain mechanisms that allow spoken words to be recognized within the auditory cortex for comprehension. She examines auditory evoked potentials (AEPs), which are time-locked and phase-locked to the speech stimuli, and using time-frequency analysis, examines brain oscillations, which reflect neural ensembles firing at different rhythms (e.g., theta, beta, and low-gamma frequency bands). Dr. Wagner’s AEP research has demonstrated that even though spoken words may be heard differently by second language learners of English, the acoustic (physical) characteristics of the spoken words are detected similarly, irrespective of native-language experience, at early cortical stages of processing. More recently, Dr. Wagner’s work has uncovered that language-specific processing of phonological sequences (cortical level processing of native-language speech sound sequences) within words occurs within the low-gamma frequency band. This research finding supports the view that linguistic units of speech (phrases, syllables, and phonemes) are registered simultaneously in auditory cortex, but at different oscillatory frequencies (excitation and inhibition of neural ensembles occurring at different rates). Currently, Dr. Wagner is acquiring behavioral data and electroencephalograms (EEGs) in response to speech in adolescents with atypical patterns of language learning (i.e., Developmental Language Disorder, Dyslexia and Auditory Processing Disorder). The ultimate goal of this work will be to determine whether individuals with atypical patterns of language learning show language-specific neural processing of speech, which is necessary for fast paced language comprehension. Graduate and undergraduate students from departments throughout the University participate in Dr. Wagner’s research examining the neurobiology of speech and language.

 

CSD 329 Neurobiology of Speech and Language

CSD 440 Advanced Research Design

CSD 1820 Neural Basis of Human Communication and Balance

Wagner, M., Ortiz-Mantilla, S., Rusiniak, M. Benasich, A. A, Shafer, V. L., Steinschneider, M. (2022). Acoustic-level and language-specific processing of native and non-native phonological sequence onsets in the low-gamma and theta-frequency bands. Scientific Reports, 12, 314, https://doi.org/10.1038/s41598-021-03611-2

Rinker, T., Yu, Y. H., Wagner M., Shafer, V. L. (2022). Language learning under varied conditions: Neural indices of speech perception in bilingual Turkish-German children and in monolingual children with developmental language disorder (DLD). Frontiers in Human Neuroscience, http://dx.doi.org/10.3389/fnhum.2021.706926

Wagner, M., Lee, J., Mingino, F., O’Brien, C., Constantine, A., Shafer, V. L., Steinschneider, M. (2017). Language experience with a native-language phoneme sequence modulates the effects of attention on cortical sensory processing" Frontiers in Auditory Cognitive Neuroscience. Frontiers in Auditory Cognitive Neuroscience, 11, https://doi.org/10.3389/fnins.2017.00569

Wagner, M., Shafer, V. L., Haxhari, E., Kiprovsky, K., Blankemeier, K., Griffiths, T. (2017). Stability of the cortical sensory waveforms, the P1-N1-P2 and T-complex, of the auditory evoked potentials. Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research, 60, 2105-2115.

Wagner, M., Roychoudhury, A., Campanelli, L., Shafer, V. L., Martin, B., Steinschneider, M. (2016). Representaton of spectro-temporal features of spoken words within the P1-N1-P2 and T-complex of the auditory evoked potentials (AEP). Neuroscience Letters, 614, 119-126

Shafer V. L., Yu, Y. H., Wagner M. (2015). Maturation of neural indices of speech processing: T-complex. International Journal of Psychophysiology, Special Issue on Auditory Processing, 95, 77-93.

Wagner, M., Shafer, V. L., Martin, B., Steinschneider, M. (2013). The effect of native-language experience on the sensory-obligatory components, the P1-N1-P2 and the T-complex. Brain Research, 1522, 31-37.

Wagner M., Shafer V. L., Martin, B., Steinschneider, M. (2012). The phonotactic influence on perception of a consonant cluster /pt/ by native-English and native-Polish listeners: A behavioral and event-related potential (ERP) study. Brain and Language,123, 30-41.

Neuroscience Research Group

Electrophysiology Research Lab

St. John’s University, Marillac Hall, SB15

Dr. Wagner’s behavioral and electrophysiology research in adults and children aims to uncover brain mechanisms that allow spoken words to be recognized within the auditory cortex for comprehension. She examines auditory evoked potentials (AEPs), which are time-locked and phase-locked to the speech stimuli, and using time-frequency analysis, examines brain oscillations, which reflect neural ensembles firing at different rhythms (e.g., theta, beta, and low-gamma frequency bands). Dr. Wagner’s AEP research has demonstrated that even though spoken words may be heard differently by second language learners of English, the acoustic (physical) characteristics of the spoken words are detected similarly, irrespective of native-language experience, at early cortical stages of processing. More recently, Dr. Wagner’s work has uncovered that language-specific processing of phonological sequences (cortical-level processing of native-language speech sound sequences) within words occurs within the low-gamma frequency band. This research finding supports the view that linguistic units of speech (phrases, syllables, and phonemes) are registered simultaneously in auditory cortex, but at different oscillatory frequencies (excitation and inhibition of neural ensembles occurring at different rates). Currently, Dr. Wagner is acquiring behavioral data and electroencephalograms (EEGs) in response to speech in adolescents with atypical patterns of language learning (i.e., Developmental Language Disorder, Dyslexia and Auditory Processing Disorder). The ultimate goal of this work will be to determine whether individuals with atypical patterns of language learning show language-specific neural processing of speech, which is necessary for fast paced language comprehension. Graduate and undergraduate students from departments throughout the University participate in Dr. Wagner’s research examining the neurobiology of speech and language.

Asymmetry of the Para-cingulate Cortex (PCC) and Language-Related Processing

Speech and language processing is predominant in the left hemisphere of the brain. The anterior cingulate cortex (ACC) has been associated with attention and executive control networks in the frontal lobe. The ACC has an associated para-cingulate cortex (PCC). The PCC morphology varies in humans, with additional cortical tissue found in the left hemisphere in a majority of adults. Of interest is whether the PCC morphology in the left hemisphere is related to language comprehension and production. In a collaboration with Dr. Eve Higby (California State University, East Bay), a group of California State University students and St. John’s University students have measured anterior ACC and PCC structures in the left and right hemispheres on participants’ MRI scans. We are currently assessing the association between PCC asymmetry and performance on various cognitive tasks to explore the relationship between language-related processes and left hemisphere dominant PCC morphology.

 

 

Wagner, M. Ortiz-Mantilla, S., Shafer, V. L., Benasich, A. A. (August 20, 2019)

Neurobiology of Language Conference “Native-language experience reflected in low gamma, theta and delta frequency bands.” Neurobiology of Language, Helsinki, Finland. Poster presentation

Wagner, M. Ortiz-Mantilla, S., Shafer, V. L., Benasich, A. A. (November 6, 2018)

Society for Neuroscience Conference “Spectro-temporal processing of consonant clusters in theta and high gamma in native-English and native-Polish bilingual adults.” Society for Neuroscience, San Diego, CA. Poster presentation

Wagner, M., Lee, J., Shafer, V. L. (March 25, 2017)

Cognitive Neuroscience Society Conference "The effects of attention modulation on sensory processing of spoken words in native-English and native-Polish listeners" Cognitive Neuroscience Society, San Francisco, CA. Poster presentation

Wagner, M. (September 15, 2016)

Haskins Laboratories “Spectral and temporal feature processing of the spoken word reflected within the cortical sensory waveforms of the auditory evoked potentials (AEPs): Clinical application” Haskins Laboratories, Yale University, New Haven, CT. Invited Speaker

Yu, Y. H., Kamowski-Shakiba, M., Wagner, M., Shafer, V. L. (April 2, 2016)

Cognitive Neuroscience Society Conference "Infant Mismatch Responses to Speech: The Interplay Between Language and Attention" Cognitive Neuroscience Society, New York, NY. Poster presentation

Shafer, V. L., Yu, Y. H., Wagner, M. (April 3, 2016)

Cognitive Neuroscience Society Conference "Neural Responses to Vowel Stimuli in Monolingual and Bilingual 3-to 46-Month-Old Children" Cognitive Neuroscience Society, New York, NY. Poster Presentation

Wagner, M., O'Brian, C., Mingino, F., Haxhari, E., Hejazi, Z., Shafer, V. L. (April 3, 2016)

Cognitive Neuroscience Society Conference "Stability of the P1-N1-P2 and T-Complex of the Auditory Evoked Potentials (AEP) to Natural Speech in Individual Subjects" Cognitive Neuroscience Society, New York, NY, Poster presentation

Wagner, M., Lee, J., Shafer, V. L. (January 4, 2016)

Auditory Cognitive Neuroscience Society Conference "The effects of attention on the cortical sensory components, P1-N1-P2 and T-complex in native English and native Polish listeners" Auditory Cognitive Neuroscience Society Conference, Tucson, AZ. Poster presentation

Higby, E., Wagner, M., Gwinner, A., Rinker, T., Shafer, V. L. (September 11, 2015)

7th Mismatch Negativity Conference "The Influence of Acoustic-Phonetics on the Processing of Complex Consonant onsets" Leipzig, Germany. Poster presentation

Wagner, M., Shafer, V. L. (April 5-8, 2014)

Cognitive Neuroscience Society Conference “Representation of spectro-temporal features of fricative and stop-consonant word onsets within the sensory auditory-evoked potentials (AEPs) using single trial analysis” Cognitive Neuroscience Society, Boston, MA. Poster presentation

Wagner, M. ,Shafer, V. L. (November 6-8, 2013)

Society for Neurobiology of Language Conference “Representation of spectro-temporal features of fricative and stop-consonant word onsets within the sensory auditory-evoked potentials (AEPs), the P1-N1-P2 and T-complex, in individual listeners” Society for Neurobiology of Language, San Diego, CA. Poster presentation

Wagner, M., Shafer, V. L. (January 16-18, 2013)

CUNY Conference on the Feature in Phonology and Phonetics “The effect of exposure to the contextual feature of the /pt/ onset cluster in native-English and native-Polish listeners” CUNY Conference on the Feature in Phonology and Phonetics, New York, NY. Speaker