Undergraduate Research

Ankit Barana '25

OUR Featured Researcher: Ankit Barana '25

Photo Credit: Jacob Strauss
Photo credit: Jacob Strauss

Ankit Barana (he/him/his) is a Neuroscience and Computer Science major conducting mentored research under Professor Leslie Kwakye. His project is titled “Neural Mechanisms of Attentional Alteration to Multisensory Speech Perception". 

Please describe your project: 

In a noisy environment, it is difficult to understand what the speaker is saying, but being able to
see the speaker's mouth makes it easier. The noisier the environment, the more helpful it is to
see the speaker's mouth. This is due to multisensory integration, the process by which information from multiple sensory modalities, in this case audition and vision, is integrated into a unified perception. Past research has shown that multisensory integration is modulated by attention at several levels of sensory processing. However, the neural basis of attentional effects on multisensory integration is not well understood. The purpose of our research is to understand how and when in sensory processing attention influences multisensory integration. Attentional processing and multisensory integration are affected in Parkinson’s, schizophrenia, and ADHD. Hence, our research can help correlate the attentional deficits with the perpetual challenges experienced by individuals with these disorders.

A brief summary (the eleator speech) of your research project:

We are looking at the stage(s) of sensory processing at which feature-based attention
influences multisensory integration and explore the neural mechanism underlying such
influences.

What does the process of doing your research look like?

Our lab currently has about four members in total, working together on certain aspects of the research project under our mentor’s guidance. Our work involves coding to develop our experiment and Eye-Tracking and Electroencephalography (EEG) are our primary data-collection tools.

In what ways have you showcased your research thus far?

We presented our research to the OSURF fellows and mentors this summer and at the
Midwest/Great Lakes Undergraduate Research Symposium in neuroscience (mGluRs).

What had the research you have conducted contributed to your professional or academic development?

Conducting research honed my time-management, data-analysis and interpersonal skills, and improved my ability to work individually and in a group. I met people with similar academic as well as non-academic interests.

How has working with your mentor impacted the development of your research project?

Our research mentor is a good balance between being relaxed and very approachable and being serious about the research. I have learned how to ask better research questions and questions about research. Under her guidance, I have grown not only as a researcher but also as a science communicator.

What advice would you give to a younger student wanting to get involved in research in your field?

Don’t hesitate to reach out to the professors and other students conducting research to know more about the research they are doing. I would also suggest utilizing opportunities like winter term and summer research to get started with research.