July 2017 Spotlight, Vrinda Kalia, Ph.D.

This month, we are delighted to introduce Dr. Vrinda Kalia (kaliav@miamioh.edu) as our member in spotlight. Dr. Kalia is Assistant Professor of Psychology at Miami University, in Oxford, Ohio. Her research program is geared to unpack the relation between cognitive control and emotion control. She is interested in the contextual forces (i.e. family, culture, language environment, stress) that shape the development of cognition overall, and emotion regulation and executive processes in particular. Although her research interests are developmental, her research is interdisciplinary; intersecting educational psychology, cultural psychology, and cognitive psychology. Her studies often combine behavioral data with physiological measurements (i.e. EEG and fNIRS).

Vrinda Kalia

 

 

 

 

Lab webpage: https://sites.google.com/site/vrindakaliaphd/

Personal Spotlight

We asked scholars to describe one of the following: a) what drew them to do work on Asians, Asian American children and youth, or another topic that is important to you now? b) who was an important mentor to them in this work, or an influential particular study in the field or in a related field? c) any particular advice or tips to someone starting out in the field who is doing work in their area.

My interest in Asians, Asian American children and youth began with graduate school. For my dissertation I examined Indian bilingual children’s home environment and its relation to early literacy development (Kalia, 2009; Kalia & Vagh, 2008). Even though children in India are routinely (and normatively) taught 2-3 languages in school, systematic research on Indian children’s language and cognitive development is extremely limited. My findings show that Indian parents use book reading to enhance children’s English vocabulary but converse with their children in Indian languages to maintain their heritage languages (Kalia & Reese, 2009). In addition to my dissertation work I have studied narrative and literacy in Indian bilingual children (Kalia, 2007) and gender and ethnic identity in narratives of Indian New Zealander mothers and daughters (Kalia & Weatherall, 2009).
In the last couple of years I have expanded the scope of my research to include bilingual populations in the US. I have examined differences in executive functions in early and late bilinguals (Kalia, Wilbourn & Kurtz, 2014) and the relation between language and the development of executive functions in monolingual and bilingual children (Kalia, Wilbourn & Daneri, under review; Wilbourn, Kurtz & Kalia, 2012).

Research Spotlight

We also asked scholars to describe a particular recent finding, current study, or recent publication and what makes them excited about it. Feel free to describe its importance from any one or more of these lenses: a) research contribution; b) our knowledge about Asian or Asian American populations; c) our knowledge about other understudied populations; d) practice or policy relevance.

I am very excited about our study examining the relations between acute stress and executive functions (Kalia, Vishwanath & Von Der Vellen; under review). This study was conducted with an interdisciplinary team and examined the hemodynamic response associated with acute stress using functional near infrared spectroscopy (fNIRS) and its impact on cognitive flexibility. Consistent with previous research we found that cognitive flexibility was unimpaired by acute stress in females. Additionally, improvement in cognitive flexibility post-stress was correlated with increased vascular oxygenation in the left PFC, during the acute stress exposure. The findings of this study will add to our understanding of the hemodynamics of acute stress and the impact of acute stress on executive functions.

Experiences with Asian Caucus

The Asian Caucus has been a mainstay of the SRCD experience for me. I look forward to attending the caucus events during the biennial meetings. The caucus has been an excellent resource and provided access to collaborators and mentors.

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