Research in our lab investigates the neurobiology of language, its breakdown in stroke-induced aphasia, and the mechanisms of brain reorganization supporting language recovery in aphasia. We use language and cognitive behavioral testing along with structural and functional MRI to explore training-induced neuroplasticity.
Aphasia is an acquired neurogenic language disorder, most often occurring secondary to left hemisphere stroke. It impairs the ability to produce or understand spoken or written language, and can significantly limit a person’s ability to participate in routine activities associated with a meaningful life. Short-term intensive language treatment can produce quick improvements in language performance that provide rich opportunities for investigating restorative and compensatory recovery mechanisms. Neuroplasticity is not a new concept, but the demonstration of treatment-induced neuroplasticity, and our understanding of the neural mechanisms supporting language recovery in chronic aphasia, is in a nascent stage. The Brain Research on Chronic Aphasia (BRoCA) lab is investigating these issues with a NIDCD supported randomized clinical trial comparing behavioral, fMRI, and quality of life outcomes following constrained vs. unconstrained intensive language therapy. The potential impact of harnessing treatment-induced neuroplasticity on the functional independence and quality of life of aphasic stroke survivors is enormous. Moreover, a better understanding of the mechanisms supporting language recovery can improve our understanding of redundant neural strategies for performing complex cognitive tasks such as speaking.
Learn more: blogs.umass.edu/jacquie/
- BA New Mexico State University, 1986
- MS University of New Mexico, 1999
- PhD University of Colorado, 2006
- Pre-doctoral training: Boston University, 2003-05
- Postdoctoral training: Georgetown University, 2006-07