Group Leader - Crinion Lab
Group Leader - Leff Lab
Our research focuses on the rehabilitation of acquired language and cognitive impairments, in individuals who have had a stroke and those with dementia. We specialise in developing novel digital interventions (i.e. apps and web-based therapies) for hemianopic alexia, aphasia and other neurological conditions.
We are passionate about involving end users in the co-design of our therapy apps and at all stages of our research.
We are also interested in the potential application of non-invasive brain stimulation (e.g. tDCS) in enhancing therapy effects, and improving language recovery.
We use a range of neuroimaging techniques (including MRI, fMRI and MEG) to further our understanding of the language network, identify how the brain changes in response to rehabilitation (neuroplasticity) and to explain and predict individual differences in recovery.
- Haya Akkad
Haya is a PhD student with a background in clinical and cognitive neuroscience. She is funded by an independent BRUK fellowship to improve recovery in patients left with speech production difficulties after a stroke. To do this, she uses methods of non-invasive brain stimulation, specifically transcranial alternating current stimulation (tACS), alongside functional brain imaging techniques such as MEG and fMRI to characterise the coordinated interactions between brain regions that support successful speech prduction. She uses this to inform the development of a non-invasive brain stimulation intervention that can be used alongside behavioural treatment to strengthen brain network functionality and improve speech rehabilitation in patients with post-stroke Aphasia. You can read more about Haya's research here: https://www.brainresearchuk.org.uk/research-project/stroke-improving-speech-recovery-haya-akkad
- David Sabate Barbera
MRC Industrial CASE PhD student interested in developing software to help people with aphasia recover their speech. I am involved in the iTALKbetter project for which I am preparing the speech recognition module and its integration into a mobile platform. My background is in Mathematics, Economics and Computer Games programming.
- Henry Coley-Fisher
Henry is a Research Assistant and PhD student with a background in psychology and cognitive neuroscience. His current research focuses on Digital Interventions in Neuro-rehabilitation (DINR). Henry is also investigating whether stroke patients who have trouble understanding speech also have problems processing non-speech sounds. He is also involved in the Listen-In project.
- Catherine Doogan
Catherine is a Post Doc and Clinical Psychologist who is working on developing three Digital Interventions in Neuro-Rehabilitation (DINR). The first, iTALKbetter, is an interactive word retrieval therapy for with people with aphasia; the second is to help people with dementia remember the names of familiar people, while the third is for stroke patients with visuo-spatial neglect.
- Victoria Fleming
Victoria is a Research Assistant and PhD student working on the ‘Listen-In’ project, funded by the NIHR i4i programme. Her PhD is focused on developing and testing a home-based digital therapy application, for individuals with impaired speech comprehension caused by stroke. Victoria is using a combination of behavioural and structural imaging (MRI) methods to investigate the efficacy of speech comprehension therapy, and identify factors which predict treatment outcomes. She will also use longitudinal structural imaging techniques to investigate treatment-related neuroplasticity.
Victoria is a Speech and Language Therapist, and completed her undergraduate training at University College London in 2014. Prior to this Victoria completed her undergraduate degree in Psychology at the University of Sussex.
- Thomas Hope
Language is our defining cognitive skill. I study the neurobiology of language in health and disease, with a particular focus on language impairments consequent to abrupt brain damage (e.g. in stroke). By studying how damage causes deficits, I aim to infer the organisation of language in the undamaged brain. I also try to understand how patients recover from these impairments, and in this sense my research also addresses neuroplasticity. My most recent work aims to understand why some patients respond so much more quickly and fully to therapeutic interventions for these impairments than others. By showing that this inter-patient variability is systematic, and even predictable to some extent, I hope to contribute to a more positive and personalised medicine for these patients.
- Thomas Langford
Tom is a PhD student with a background in neuroengineering. His current research focuses on applying co-design and machine learning to optimise a reading therapy app (iReadMore) for people with aphasia or alexia. Tom is funded by an MRC industrial CASE studentship and is working with industry partner, Ashley Peacock - Passio.
- Sasha Ondobaka
Sasha is a senior research associate with a background in cognitive and clinical neuroscience. His main interests are in how neural effective connectivity and brain-body neural interactions contribute to intelligent behaviour. His current focus is on understanding and improving language production in healthy individuals and individuals following aphasic stroke using functional MRI, Dynamic Causal Modelling and transcranial Direct Current Stimulation.
- Emily Upton
Emily is a Research Assistant and PhD student with a background in speech and language therapy and cognitive neuroscience. Her current research focuses on the development of three Digital Interventions in Neuro-Rehabilitation (DINR). These include: 1) the iTALKbetter word retrieval therapy app for people with post-stroke aphasia; 2) the Gotcha! name retrieval therapy app for people with dementia; and 3) an app for stroke patients with visuo-spatial neglect. As part of her PhD, she will use MRI to investigate how brain damage relates to changes in speech production following the use of the iTALKbetter app.
Honorary Research Fellows
- Sharifa Al-Ragam
Sharifa completed a PhD whilst at the Neurotherapeutics lab. Her researched focused on the development and validation of a therapy app for Arabic readers with Hemianopic Alexia. She used behavioural testing and eye-movement tracking to achieve this. The app retains eye movements that are important for reading using scrolling text. After her time at the Neurotherapeutics lab, Sharifa returned to Kuwait to a position as Assistant Professor at the Public Authority for Applied Education and Training.
- Davide Nardo
Davide is a postdoctoral research associate with a background in cognitive and clinical neuroscience. During his time at the lab, he used behavioural and functional neuroimaging techniques to investigate the effects of neurostimulation (tDCS) and phonemic-cueing-based anomia training on spoken language recovery in chronic aphasic patients. After leaving the Neurotherapeutics lab, Davide moved to the Cambridge Brain Sciences Unit to work with Dr. Michael Anderson.
- Katerina Pappa
Katerina worked as a research assistant with an interest in the neurorehabilitation of aphasic patients with speech production difficulties. Whilst working at the NT lab, she implemented neurostimulation techniques (tDCS) combined with functional neuroimaging techniques and behavioural training. Katerina left the Neurotherapeutics lab to take up a PhD position at the University of Glasgow under the supervision of Professor Jonathan Evans.
- Sonia Brownsett
Sonia Brownsett was a post-doc and Speech and Language therapist at the Neurotherapeutics lab, she worked on the ‘Listen-in’ project. This project aimed to combine therapy for auditory comprehension deficits with gamification technologies in order to maximally engage patients with their aphasia therapy. During her PhD she developed a computer-based therapy targeting auditory discrimination deficits and used fMRI to investigate how ‘non-language’ areas of the brain are important in the rehabilitation of aphasia. After working at the Neurotherapeutics lab, Sonia moved to the Queensland University of Technology.
- Zoe Woodhead
During her time at the Neurotherapeutics lab, Zoe worked as a Post-doctoral researcher on the 'iReadMore' project. This project investigated whether a therapy app for acquired reading disorders after stroke, called ‘iReadMore’, improved single word reading. She continues to collaborate with the Neurotherapeutics group on the online release of the iReadMore app. In 2016, Zoe moved to the University of Oxford, to take up a Postdoctoral Research Associate position working for Dorothy Bishop in the OSCCI lab. Her current research uses functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) and functional transcranial doppler sonography (fTCD) to investigate the profile of lateralisation across various language tasks.
- Hui Hui Gan
Hui Hui is currently an MSc student in Cognitive Neuroscience. She has practised as a Speech Language Therapist in Singapore for over 10 years and her special interest is in communication disorders after acquired brain injury. The current project she is working on is exploring the neural correlates underlying naming error patterns in Aphasia using confrontational naming and picture description tasks.
- Sheila Kerry
Sheila is a post-doctoral research associate working on the Back of the Brain Project (BoB). This collaborative project is concerned with visual and cognitive problems following stroke to the back of the brain. Sheila’s PhD focussed on a reading therapy app, called iReadMore, for people with a post-stroke reading disorder. She used Magnetoencephalography to investigate connectivity changes in participants with Central Alexia as a result of using iReadMore.
- Oscar Aguilar
Oscar completed a PhD studentship funded by the Colombian government whilst at the Neurotherapeutics lab. His research focused on understanding the relationship between aphasic patients' response to therapy and their capacity to learn. He worked on the iReadMore project, where he used language and cognitive tests along with Magnetic Resonance Imagining (MRI) to understand predictors of response to a word reading retraining app, called ‘iReadMore’, in patients’with reading difficulties following a stroke. Oscar returned to Columbia in 2017 as an associate Professor in the Faculty of Psychology at Pontificia University Javeriana, Colombia.