Language Neuroscience Laboratory

The Language Neuroscience Laboratory is located in the Department of Hearing and Speech Sciences at Vanderbilt University Medical Center.

Research in the lab is focused on three related questions:

  1. How is language processed in the brain?
  2. How does brain damage affect language processing in individuals with aphasia, i.e. acquired language disorders?
  3. What brain mechanisms support the recovery of language processing in people with aphasia who improve over time?

To address these questions, we study individuals with aphasia, as well as healthy participants with normal language, using a range of state-of-the-art functional and structural neuroimaging techniques. We combine our multimodal imaging approach with comprehensive language assessments designed to quantify deficits in different components of the language processing system, such as syntactic structure, word meanings, and the selection and assembly of speech sounds.


The Language Neuroscience Podcast

I’m pleased to introduce The Language Neuroscience Podcast, a podcast about the scientific study of language and the brain. I’ll be talking with leading and up-and-coming researchers about their work and ideas. This podcast is geared to an audience of scientists and future scientists who are interested in the neural substrates of language, from students, to postdocs, to faculty. In the first episode, I interview Ev Fedorenko, an Associate Professor at MIT who is doing some of the most innovative and exciting work in our field.

Happy holidays

Our last consensus scoring meeting for the year was carried out with much festive spirit.

Neuroplasticity in post-stroke aphasia: A systematic review and meta-analysis of functional imaging studies of reorganization of language processing

We carried out a systematic review and meta-analysis of all 86 articles published between 1995 and early 2020 that have described functional imaging studies of six or more individuals with post-stroke aphasia, and have reported analyses bearing on neuroplasticity of language processing.

Wilson SM, Schneck SM. Neuroplasticity in post-stroke aphasia: A systematic review and meta-analysis of functional imaging studies of reorganization of language processing. Neurobiol Lang 2020; in press. [html]


Frozen Head State Park

Pandemic workstation

Great Smoky Mountains NP

Empty med center

New NIH-funded project

We are thrilled to share the news that our project R01 DC013270 ‘Neural correlates of recovery from aphasia after stroke’ has been funded by the National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders. This grant will support our work from June, 2020 to May, 2025.

Imaging analysis workstation

Wernicke-Lichtheim models

Credits: Sharice Clough, Anna Kasdan, Leah Mann.

ASHA 2019 presentations

Here are the resources for further study related to our ASHA presentation ‘Using neuroimaging to inform assessment, patient education, and treatment planning in acute post-stroke aphasia’:

3D viewer including a template brain to explore

Labeled MRI slices (needs FLASH)

Very nice “big picture” brain explorer

Explore 8 different brains in 3D

And here is the QAB page.

IPA gummies

Credit: Deborah Levy.

Congratulations Dr. Melodie Yen

Categorical encoding of vowels in primary auditory cortex

In this new paper, we used fMRI/MVPA to show that vowel representations even in primary auditory cortex (PAC) are shaped by a language-specific phonemic category boundary.

Levy DF, Wilson SM. Categorical encoding of vowels in primary auditory cortex. Cereb Cortex 2020; 30: 618-27. [pdf]

Auditory-perceptual rating of connected speech in aphasia

We describe a system for assessing connected speech in aphasia, based on the auditory-perceptual approach that is used in the assessment and diagnosis of motor speech disorders. We show that APROCSA is reliable and valid, and in our sample, explains 79% of the variance in connected speech profiles in terms of four latent factors: Paraphasia, Logopenia, Agrammatism, and Motor Speech.

Casilio M, Rising K, Beeson PM, Bunton K, Wilson SM. Auditory-perceptual rating of connected speech in aphasia. Am J Speech Lang Pathol 2019; 28: 550-68. [pdf | doi]

We escaped!

We made it out of "The Inheritance"--the toughest escape room in Nashville!

Lunch with Jane Wilkerson Yount

We had a great lunch with Jane Wilkerson Yount (seated), who generously endowed the Wilkerson Yount Research Fund in 2017. This fund supports research in adult neurogenic communication disorders at the Vanderbilt Bill Wilkerson Center, and will be supporting a new investigation into treated recovery from post-stroke aphasia. Standing: Stephen Wilson, Melissa Duff, and Anne Marie Tharpe.

Neurobiology of Language

The new open access journal Neurobiology of Language launches tomorrow, supported by the Society for the Neurobiology of Language and MIT Press. I’m proud to serve as an inaugural member of the editorial board. Thanks to the editors-in-chief Steve Small and Kate Watkins, and everyone who made this possible.

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