A team comprising of Prof. Ramesh Kumar Mishra, Madhulika Gangadhar Pathak, and Benaifer Paula Fernandes went to Northumbria University, Newcastle under the Erasmus+ iBrain Capacity Building Grant awarded to Prof. Mishra, as part of the mobility and knowledge dissemination mandate of the grant. Prof. Mishra, Head of Centre for Neural and Cognitive Sciences, School of Medical Sciences, delivered a series of lectures in the United Kingdoms between the 15th and the 29th of October 2023.
His first lecture was at Northumbria University in Newcastle, which was an iBrain activity hosted by iBrain partner Dr. Andriy Myachykov, associate professor of Psychology and Deputy Director of Research and Knowledge Exchange. Prof. Mishra delivered a lecture on the shortcomings of bilingualism research carried out in India, highlighting the diversity of the population being studied and the cultural and linguistic differences borne by this population. There was a great discussion of the importance ecologically valid research, that would, in the future, lead to changes in the quality of life for the average Indian. Along with him were Benaifer Paula Fernandes, and Madhulika Gangadhar Pathak, PhD student. Both Benaifer and Madhulika also presented their work as a part of the symposium hosted by Northumbria University. Benaifer, material development manager of the iBrain project, spoke about the various archiving and knowledge dissemination activities carried out by the ACCL lab, like the CogTalk series which has hosted many well known scientists like Prof. Ray Jackendoff, Prof. Howard Gardner and others. Madhulika, PhD student under Prof. Mishra, gave a talk on her work with low literate individuals, describing the various findings on the impact of literacy training on cognitive skills. The talks were well received by the attendees. They interacted with many professors of the psychology department and had fruitful conversations to foster collaborative research between the two universities.
Prof. Mishra also delivered an invited lecture at Edinburgh University. He was hosted by Prof. Martin Pickering, professor at the School of Philosophy, Psychology, and Language Sciences. They focussed on the issue of bilingualism, policy and education, and various important issues pertaining to research gaps in theory were discussed. After the presentation, there was a rousing discussion on the how bilingual individuals activate representations and knowledge across different languages, despite differences in scripts and contexts. The importance of this theoretical standpoint in education and literacy training for developing bilingual countries like India was also greatly emphasised upon.
The next invited lecture by Prof. Mishra was at the University of Sheffield, where he was hosted by Dr. Meesha A Warmington, Deputy Director of Education: Inclusive Learning Environments and the Co-Director of The Centre for Equity & Inclusion at the Faculty of Social Sciences. This presentation was more focussed on prof. Mishra’s work with low literate individuals, wherein his long term project with a local low literate population was discussed in detail. As the audience was comprised of a variety of researchers from multiple disciplines, the impact of literacy on cognition and on society was the main topic of the post-lecture Q&A session.
It was a fruitful visit, where possibilities of future grants and collaborations were discussed. The final lecture was at the University of Oxford, where he was invited by Prof. Sonali Nag, Professor of Psychology and Education and Education Fellow of Brasenose College. Here, he discussed the issue of bilingual education and research across the globe. This talk was about cross-linguistic bilingual activation with a heavy focus on methodology. The gathering discussed various projects comparatively occurring in England and India. Madhulika Pathak also presented part of her doctoral work at the symposium organized by Prof. Nag. The gathering discussed possibilities of joint projects that could be undertaken in the near future. Overall, the visit was a successful one, with many opportunities for collaborative research being forged.