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Institute of Cognitive Neuroscience

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Mechanisms underlying spoken language production: facilitating frontal brain networks following aphasic stroke.

Word-finding difficulties (anomia) is the most common and chronically disabling impairment following aphasic stroke. However, surprisingly little is understood about the contributions that individual frontal brain areas make to anomia recovery. The frontal language network overlaps considerably with those supporting other diverse cognitive functions such as cognitive control; both are likely involved in language learning/recovery. Dr Crinion’s research seeks to place spoken word production in the context of wider cognition to understand how common brain areas, and possibly common processes, support such disparate functions in the damaged brain. This will provide novel and fundamental insights into the mechanisms involved.

To address these aims we use whole-brain high-resolution structural and functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) in conjunction with transcranial direct current stimulation (tDCS), along with neuropsychological examination and behavioural training of aphasic patients. This provides a powerful platform to understand the causes of cognitive and spoken language change following brain damage.


App-delivered therapy for Arabic readers with Hemianopic Alexia

Hemianopia refers to compromised vision in one half of the visual field, in either one or both eyes. Hemianopic Alexia (HA) is a reading disorder related to such impairment, usually caused by stroke or head injury. In order to read, you have to move your eyes along a line of text three to four times per second. Such eye movements are called saccades. One makes use of peripheral visual information to the right (if reading from left to right, e.g., in English) or to the left (if reading from right to left, e.g., in Arabic) of words. HA patients are deprived of much of this information. They require far more saccades, which slows their reading significantly and often prevents them from reading efficiently for work or pleasure. It follows that the reading ability of those who read left-to-right would be compromised more by right-sided HA, and in those who read right-to-left by a left-sided HA.

This study proposes to explore the rehabilitation of left-sided HA following stroke, in Arabic readers. An online treatment package has been developed in English (http://www.readright.ucl.ac.uk/). Currently, no assessment or treatment resources exist for the condition in right-to-left readers. The aim is to develop novel Arabic reading tests and rehabilitation material. The current project proposes to 1) translate this package into Arabic, 2) develop new Arabic reading test materials and 3) collect data from Arabic reading stroke patients in a Phase 2 clinical trial. The hope is to develop an effective, novel, and empirically supported reading treatment package for Arabic readers with HA.