“We hold high respect for Professor Goswami’s visionary approach to answer for our children’s well-being and their future. It is exciting to see her ground-breaking work setting the scientific basis in understanding how we can help every child succeed. As education continues to drive forward fundamental changes in our societies, it is our hope that deeper knowledge into brain functions would open new possibilities for better access to learning,” Dr Charles Chen Yidan said at the award ceremony.
Usha Goswami is Professor of Cognitive Developmental Neuroscience at the University of Cambridge, and a Fellow of St John’s College Cambridge. She founded and serves as Director of the world’s first Center for Neuroscience in Education. Her research revealed the brain basis of rhythm perception, showing how this neural process is impaired in developmental dyslexia. These discoveries are enabling transformative educational interventions that have the potential to benefit millions of children worldwide.
Professor Usha Goswami was awarded the Yidan Prize for Education Research in September 2019 for her ground-breaking neuroscience research in understanding brain function, which allows educators to design different teaching pedagogy, techniques and tools to help children with dyslexia and special needs to learn languages more effectively.
The University’s Vice-Chancellor, Professor Stephen Toope, remarked at the ceremony: “We are incredibly grateful to Charles Yidan Chen for establishing the Yidan Prize. It is a prize that inspires and encourages educational innovation and research, and which will inspire and encourage the generations to follow. Congratulations to Professor Usha Goswami, who embodies the University’s mission to contribute to society through the pursuit of education, learning and research and research at the highest international levels of excellence.”
“I am deeply honored to receive the Yidan Prize, and to have my research in educational neuroscience, language and literacy recognized by the Foundation. I whole-heartedly endorse the Yidan Prize Foundation’s mission to create a better world through education. Children’s language and reading skills are fundamental to their ability to access the opportunities offered by education,” Professor Goswami said.
As a Yidan Prize Laureate, Professor Goswami received a gold medal and HK$30 million (around US$3.9 million), half of which is a cash prize and the other half a project fund.
Professor Goswami plans to use the Yidan Prize project fund for a dedicated neuroimaging investigation of developmental language disorder (DLD). Children with DLD have difficulties in acquiring oral language in the absence of some neurodevelopmental issues. Worldwide, it is estimated that 7% of children in every culture are affected – over 15 million children.
The research data empowered by the Yidan Prize project fund will potentially reveal the brain basis of DLD, leading to the development of innovative intervention techniques to enable children with DLD to access education normally.
Further the neural data will be rich enough to create a classifier by using machine learning approaches to identify children at risk of DLD, enabling early screening in infancy, which is much needed but currently impossible. By collecting matched neural data to that with dyslexic children, Professor Goswami can also create a classifier to discriminate the DLD brain response from the dyslexic brain response, this would be ground-breaking.
“We are so pleased to be working closely with Professor Goswami, supporting her inspiring work which could benefit millions of children. We all know that having the right environment for individuals to thrive is so important, and we greatly anticipate that, here in Cambridge, exciting findings will open doors for passionate educators to apply innovative technology and solutions to create a more inclusive global community,” Dr Charles Chen Yidan said.
“The award of the Yidan Prize enables me to extend my rhythm research into oral language difficulties, a long-term ambition of mine. I’m incredibly grateful for what the prize makes possible,” Professor Goswami said.