BiographyDr. Gollan received her B.A. from Brandeis University, a Ph.D. in clinical and cognitive neuropsychology from the University of Arizona, and completed an internship in clinical neuropsychology at UCSD, and post-doctoral fellowships at UCSD and Pomona college where she taught classes on Cognitive Science and Cognitive Neuropsychology. Dr. Gollan is a faculty member of the UCSD/SDSU Joint Doctoral Program in Clinical Psychology, and also mentors undergraduate research as part of the Faculty Mentor Program and the McNair Program for students who are underrepresented in graduate education. Dr. Gollan’s research is funded by an R01 from NIDCD.
Research InterestsBilinguals seem to effortlessly control which language they speak. They almost never switch languages by mistake, and yet they can also switch fluently back and forth between languages when speaking in bilingual contexts. How do bilinguals maintain such effective control over language selection, and to what extent does language control rely on domain-general executive control? Do older bilinguals have more difficulty juggling two languages, and how does Alzheimer’s disease change a person’s ability to speak two languages? Bilinguals don’t seem different from monolinguals, but they know roughly twice as many words as monolinguals, and Dr. Gollan’s research suggests that this doubled load produces subtle but significant differences between bilinguals and monolinguals. Dr. Gollan’s research aims to discover how the language processing system manages the juggling associated with bilingualism to reveal the cognitive mechanisms that allow speakers to produce error free speech.
Clinical FocusDiagnosing cognitive impairments in bilinguals is more complicated than in monolinguals. Bilinguals perform differently from monolinguals on many of the most commonly administered measures of neuropsychological functioning, and these tests were developed for use with monolinguals and therefore fail to consider aspects of performance that are unique to bilinguals. Test performance differences may erroneously suggest an "abnormality" when in fact they simply reflect the normal consequences of bilingualism. The clinical goals in Dr. Gollan’s research are 1) to determine whether performance differences between bilinguals and monolinguals will interfere with the detection of cognitive impairment in bilinguals, and 2) to develop tests that cater more specifically to assessment of bilinguals.