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Klara MartonKlara Marton, Ph.D.
Professor and Executive Officer

What is your academic background?

I have a doctorate from Hungary in Developmental Psychology and a Ph.D. from the Graduate Center in Speech and Hearing Sciences. I completed my post-graduate studies in Neuropsychology.

What is your current research direction?

In my lab, Cognition and Language Laboratory at the Graduate Center, I have been studying how different cognitive processes, such as memory, attention, inhibition interact with language comprehension and production. This is the underlying question of all of my research projects. I am studying the relationship between cognition and language along a spectrum with children and adults who have language deficits and who speak numerous languages with high proficiency.

How have students from the Graduate Center been involved?

The students in my lab come from different disciplines; some of them have degrees in psychology, linguistics, neuroscience, speech-language pathology, but we all study the association between cognition and language from different theoretical perspectives and by using various behavioral methods. Some students are interested in more theoretical questions, whereas others are doing applied research. They work with different populations, such as children and adults who stutter, children with autism or language impairment, bilingual children and young adults. Over the past years, my research was supported by the National Institute of Sciences and by different collaborative and interdisciplinary grants from CUNY. These funding opportunities allowed me to support the students as research assistants. Within our broader research theme, most projects are initiated by the students but there is a strong collaborative relationship within the lab and with people from other labs and other programs. As a result of our collaborative efforts, all of my students are first or co-authors on a number of published papers and conference presentations by the time they graduate.  

Since you are on faculty in both Hungary and the US, what differences have you observed in research?

One interesting finding was related to the differences in the educational systems. Although we did not test specifically any school-related learning, we presented children with the same experiments in the US and in Hungary. The children in the US were typically very fast, but not always accurate. In Hungary, children were more accurate, but slow. In the Hungarian schools children are told to take their time but make sure that they find the correct answer. Here in the US, many tasks and even exams are timed, so the children prioritized time over accuracy.

What advice would you give to the incoming students?

Take advantage of all the opportunities at the Graduate Center. Within our program, there are several labs with very different research profiles, so there are many opportunities for collaborations. As students often study quite complex phenomena, it is important that they take courses outside of the department, become involved in interdisciplinary projects and get different views. For instance, we are studying how language develops and is processed in the Speech-Language-Hearing Sciences program, but people are also studying it in Linguistics, in Psychology, in Cognitive Neuroscience and everyone has a different scientific approach. The more students learn from these different approaches, the wider perspective they have when examining complex issues, such as language processing in the brain.

Another suggestion to the students is to get involved in laboratory work as soon as possible, to get hands-on experience by participating in different projects. Also, keep an open mind and take advantage of the intellectual atmosphere of the Graduate Center. Go to talks, even outside of your area; you might not think a topic is relevant to your interest now, but it might become very important later, since different perspectives and scientific approaches may lead to original solutions.

What do you do in your spare time?

Whitewater canoeing, yoga, going to museums and reading.