Dr. Ram-Tsur's Lab
Head - Brain Research Lab
Dr. Ronit Ram-Tsur is a Lecturer in the School of Education. Together with her research group, she investigates the links among perception, cognition, and language in both healthy and disabled populations.
Her team uses psychophysics, video-based eyetracking and electroencephalography (EEG) to study how low-level perceptual processing influences higher order cognitive processes; how reading and mathematical skills are acquired; and how the brain integrates various modalities (such as vision and audition).
Dyslexia and reading disabilities
One of the leading theories for the etiology of developmental dyslexia posits that the timing of the processing of perceptual stimuli is critical for the development of accurate and fluent reading.
This reading fluency has been found to be critical for the next stage, which is reading comprehension. Ram-Tsur and her group are investigating the timing of perceptual input and the relative importance of the timing of separate modalities as compared to the timing of cross-modal integration.
They are also investigating if the timing of cross-modal synchronization plays a role in both dyslexia and dyscalculia (mathematics-related learning disability), which would explain the oft-observed comorbidity of these two disorders.
In addition, Ram-Tsur and her team use psychophysics and EEG to understand if and how types of attention influences low-level perceptual processes.
Development of mathematical abilities and Dyscalculia
Ram-Tsur and her group study how both normal individuals and those with dyscalculia solve meta mathematical problems, or graphs.
They use video-based eyetracking, psychophysics tests and neuropsychological diagnostic batteries to understand how different populations process mathematical graphs, and to discover the most efficient processing methods.
Their main work in this field includes a longitudinal study that traces the development of children’s mathematical acquisition process from preschool through second grade, and another study (in collaboration with Prof. Zemira Mevarech and Dr. Michal Zion from Bar-Ilan University, and Prof. Amos Arieli from Weizmann Institute) that focuses on how students process and analyze graphs.
Ram-Tsur and her team study how people integrate and synchronize sensory input; where and when in the brain this integration/synchronization takes place; what influences these integration abilities; and whether these integration abilities interfere with other cognitive skills.
To this end, her team uses psychophysics to build a scale for the timing of the integration of cross-modal stimuli in various conditions and in normal multiple special populations. One project examines whether the sensory overload observed in many autistic populations is caused by difficulties in cross-modal integration abilities. The autistic populations ability for efficient, automatic and correct cross-modal integration is investigated also in related to their different kinds of attention abilities.
Looking to the future
Ram-Tsur and her group aim to incorporate additional technologies, such as functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI), in their work on cross-modal integration.
They plan to explore the neural plasticity of integration/synchronization processes in normal and disabled populations and build a neurobiological model of brain areas that are responsible for this integration and synchronization.
Their main goal is to find out how low-order processing becomes automatic, and whether this can be taught in order to create more efficient learning. Their aim is to create educational intervention programs and perceptual training that can help especially in the acquisition of reading and mathematical abilities.