Pediatric Neurosurgeon Taylor Abel, MD Awarded New R21 Grant

August 31, 2021

UPMC Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh pediatric neurosurgeon, Taylor J. Abel, MD, was awarded a National Institutes of Health (NIH) National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders R21 grant in April for a study that will investigate the flexible representation of speech in the supratemporal plane. This work is being led by Dr. Abel and Co-Principal Investigator Lori L. Holt, PhD, Professor of Psychology and Neuroscience at Carnegie Mellon University and Principal Investigator in the Holt Laboratory.

Study Objectives

Drs. Abel and Holt's study is designed to more thoroughly understand mechanisms in the brain that confer upon individuals the ability to perceive speech in the context of dynamic settings, such as occurs with ambient sounds and noises or when speaking to someone with a foreign accent. This line of research is important clinically because it may aid in refining or developing new rehabilitation protocols for individuals who suffer from communication disorders that interfere with their ability to perceive and ultimately process speech – disorders such as autism and dyslexia.

The study will employ Dr. Abel’s extensive expertise in the use of stereoelectroencephalography (sEEG), in concert with other brain-mapping techniques, such as scalp electroencephalography and electrocorticography, to obtain electrophysiological data from within brain structures to map and assess speech perception in both study subjects and healthy controls. 

Additional Grant Information

Learn more about Dr. Abel’s and Dr. Holt’s study: Flexible Representation of Speech in the Supratemporal Plane. R21DC019217-01

More About Dr. Abel

Taylor J. Abel, MD, is an Assistant Professor of Neurological Surgery at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine, and he is the Chief of Pediatric Epilepsy Surgery and Surgical Director of the UPMC Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh Epilepsy Center. Prior to joining UPMC Children's, Dr. Abel trained at the University of Iowa, Centre Hospitalier Universitaire Grenoble Alpes in France, and The Hospital for Sick Children in Toronto, Canada. 

Dr. Abel directs the Pediatric Brain Electrophysiology Laboratory, which is focused on understanding the mechanisms of auditory perception in the human brain. Dr. Abel’s research group also conducts clinical trials and comparative effectiveness studies of epilepsy surgery interventions.