2020 Research Winner Kendra Kandana Arachchige Has Been Awarded Her PhD

The Brainbox Initiative is delighted to hear that Kendra Kandana Arachchige, winner of the 2020 Brainbox Initiative Research Challenge has been awarded her PhD by the University of Mons.

Kendra Kandana Arachchige

Kendra's thesis, The involvement of working memory and attentional processes in iconic gesture processing in the context of language comprehension: Proposal of an integrated model, focused on investigating the cognitive mechanisms involved in gesture-speech integration, specifically working memory and attentional processes as this is a recently emerging field of research. It presents four studies, three of which investigated whether working memory was involved, and, if yes, which component(s) of working memory was involved. They highlighted that not only visuospatial working memory was involved (as suggested previously by Wu & Coulson) but also verbal working memory and also that iconic gestures were processed differently in working memory than meaningless gestures. A fourth study, using eye-tracking technology, showed that even though people don't pay conscious attention to iconic gestures, their presence do affect comprehension (positively if the iconic gesture matches the info conveyed in speech and negatively if the iconic gestures mismatches the info conveyed in speech). 
The results were discussed in the framework of modal and amodal working memory models and overt/covert attentional processes.
The Brainbox Initiative team are extremely pleased to hear of Kendra's ongoing success, and we are very much looking forward to welcoming Kendra back to the Brainbox Initiative Conference in future for updates on how her Research Challenge work is progressing.