What is the HNL?
The HNL is a state-of-the-art research and teaching laboratory dedicated to studying human neuroscience - the ways that the human brain supports human behavior. The approach and methodology of the HNL grow out of more than two decades of brain and behavior research by the Director, Professor Judith Lauter. Dr. Lauter has directed research laboratories at three major universities, using a wide variety of brain-imaging techniques, ranging from magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) and magnetoencephalography (MEG) to quantitative electroencephalography (qEEG) and positron emission tomography (PET).
Scope of Research
HNL research projects span a broad spectrum of topics, including reading and dyslexia, hyperactivity, autism, chronic pain, multiple sclerosis, and Alzheimer's disease. In fact, we can use HNL facilities to study virtually any condition affecting humans, from individual differences in personality and learning skills, to risk factors for nicotine addiction, heart disease and breast cancer.
The HNL is a laboratory unique in the State of Texas, with few peers in the nation. The lab utilizes experimental designs and theoretical approaches that have been pioneered by Dr. Lauter, along with her original methods for "coordinated testing." We have computer-based systems that enable us to study many aspects of human beings, all the way from the outside of the body to the inside of the brain. These systems include equipment for:
1) speech and voice recording and analysis;
2) otoacoustic emissions; 3) cardiac recording and analysis (electrocardiography);
4) assessment of eye coordination during reading;
5) visual and auditory evoked potentials, from the eye and ear up through the brainstem into cortex; and
6) quantitative electroencephalography (qEEG) for generating color-coded brain maps. These systems are housed in state-of-the-art sound-shielded and electrically-shielded rooms for maximum accuracy of recording and analysis.
As HNL Director, Dr. Lauter conducts her own research and facilitates collaborations with other faculty members from Human Services, the College of Education, and additional groups at SFA. HNL collaborative efforts also extend beyond the SFA campus and have included projects with colleagues from California State University/Chico, Northeastern State University in Tahlequah OK, and the University of Maryland Medical School in Baltimore.
The laboratory's primary purpose as an on-campus facility is to provide students at all levels with the opportunity to observe and participate in state-of-the-art human neuroscience research. This applies to basic studies as well as projects in collaboration with clinical clients, to allow students to explore the neural bases of a range of problems seen in our Human Services clinics. HNL data-collection systems are taken into classrooms for demonstrations, and classes can also meet in the HNL Conference Room using its facilities for computer-based presentations. Undergraduate as well as graduate students are involved in this research, both as experimental subjects and assistants helping with data collection and analysis. We are developing programs to allow students from local schools to visit the lab to observe and help with experiments.
Serving the Community
The HNL mission is to advance our understanding of human beings in general and of human brain disorders in particular. We are not interested in "ivory tower" science. We strive for research that impacts directly on the real, everyday problems that affect everyone - from newborns to seniors. We are dedicated to creating a human neuroscience that will illuminate individual differences in learning skills, coping strategies, and physical capabilities.
The HNL is an integrated facility combining the best of research, teaching, and clinical practice, in collaboration with clinical faculty, students, and our clients. Along with basic research, we support clinical studies such as changes in the brain associated with intervention.
In its suite within the Human Services Building, the HNL can host open-house events for community visitors, and has the potential to support programs in which HNL faculty and students provide off-campus presentations directly to community groups. In this way, HNL can help SFA extend its educational mission to reach and serve the greater East Texas community.
Human Services Building
Dept. of Human Services
Professor Robbie Steward, Chair
James I. Perkins College of Education