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Language
My research program aims to establish a functional anatomical model of language that predicts how speech and reading are lost and recovered following neurological damage or developmental delay. The hypothesis is that there are multiple ways that the brain can perform each language task (degeneracy). If this is true, then the effect of damage or developmental delay will depend on whether there is a surviving system available to sustain the task. To dissociate the neuronal systems for the same task, we use structural and functional MRI of subjects who vary in their cognitive abilities, demographics and neurological status. This allows us to characterize individual variability in the neuronal networks of neurologically normal populations and to examine how brain damage affects cognitive abilities in patient populations. In particular, we aim to determine how the impact of damage to one system depends on the integrity of another. The language tasks we use are designed to tap various aspects of reading, speech perception, speech production and language control (e.g. in bilinguals). Our studies typically compare the neuronal networks for verbal stimuli to those involved in perceptual, conceptual or motor processing of non-verbal stimuli such as music, environmental sounds, numerals and pictures of objects.
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