Digital visual of the human brain in lights emanating sparks

Language and the brain's underground trains

I’m Ieva, a PhD student in the Institute of Systems, Molecular and Integrated Biology. I am originally from Lithuania but moved to the UK in 2016 to pursue my undergraduate degree in Molecular Biology and Genetics at the University of East Anglia. I then studied for my Masters in Neuroimaging for Cognitive and Clinical Neuroscience at the University of Manchester. My passion for research then led me to work towards my PhD at Liverpool. In my free time, I love traveling to different places all over the world and I enjoy dancing and playing the piano.

My research 

I am studying language in the healthy human brain using advanced MRI techniques. My aim is to understand why some people are left-lateralized for language, whereas 5% of the population are bilateral. Brain function lateralization is the tendency for some neural functions or cognitive activity to be processed by one side of the brain or bilaterally. 

My work involves analysing MRI data using computational tools, so a significant part of it is coding, which I love because I am a math geek. I intend for my research to be used by brain surgeons to make better choices during surgeries such as epilepsy surgery to avoid any complications in bilateral individuals if key links between both hemispheres of the brain are broken. 

The brain is such a fascinating part of the human body so naturally people will possess a deep curiosity about developments in neuroscience. However, a lot of neuroscience and related communications contain lots of scientific jargon and articles that remain inaccessible to those outside academic circles can discourage them or create a sense of overwhelming complexity, deterring them from engaging with scientific research. As scientists, it is our responsibility to remove this barrier.  

My next steps and beyond 

I will be finishing my PhD and figuring out the right trajectory for my future. I aim to work in a multidisciplinary environment, whether in a lab or based in industry where my research can have more real-world applications. I’m excited for the future and the new opportunities that lie ahead after my PhD. 

My 3-minute thesis 

The 3MT experience taught me not to delve too deeply into the details of research and to always emphasise the main point and importance of my research. Additionally, when communicating with a non-scientific audience, it is crucial to make the research relatable. Crucially, this experience has developed my public speaking skills and I am now much more confident when presenting. 

Watch my 3MT presentation

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