Dr Eleni Orfanidou

Eleni Orfanidou

I received my PhD in Cognitive Neuroscience from the MRC Cognition and Brain Sciences Unit, Cambridge University. During my PhD I studied spoken language comprehension, and in particular the representation and access of complex words during spoken word recognition and their neural substrates.

Within the framework of language comprehension, I am currently interested in the comprehension of sign language. Sign language is of particular interest because it differs significantly from spoken language; it is perceived through the eyes and articulated by the hands and face. Given these substantial differences, it is not clear how similar the processing of sign language is, during on-line comprehension, to the processing of speech.

As a post-doctoral research fellow at City University and DCAL (2006-2009) I worked with Prof Gary Morgan on two main research questions. First, how do users of British Sign Language (BSL) perceive and segment the continuous visual sign stream in order to isolate individual signs and retrieve their meaning? Second, do sign language users segment the sign stream in the same way as listeners segment the speech stream and how is this affected by the Age of Acquisition of BSL?

From October 2009 I am a senior research fellow at DCAL, working with Prof Bencie Woll in a collaborative project between DCAL, the Department of Behavioural Sciences and Learning, Linköping University (Dr Mary Rudner, Prof Jerker Rönnberg) and the School of Psychological Sciences, University of Manchester (Dr Cheryl Capek). This project is one of the first to adopt a cross-linguistic approach to the study signed languages. The aim is to study how congenital deafness and experience of singed language impact on linguistic and non-linguistic working memory processing in the visuospatial domain. Using fMRI we aim to tease apart the networks supporting semantic and phonological processing in BSL and Swedish Sign Language.

E-mail: Dr. Eleni Orfanidou