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Lesion & Connectivity Analysis of a Network supporting Language Comprehension

Speaker: Dr Nina Dronkers, University of California





Classic models of language comprehension have focused on the left posterior superior temporal gyrus as the key region involved in language comprehension. However, recent lesion and functional imaging studies have suggested the involvement of numerous cortical regions that could assist in supporting the complexities of language. This presentation will review some of the major findings from our laboratory concerning the neural correlates of auditory comprehension disorders in stroke patients with aphasia. Voxel-based lesion-symptom mapping analyses of behavioral and neuroimaging data from aphasic patients will be presented that associate several brain regions with the language disorders of our patients(1). In addition, the structural and functional connectivity of these regions will be described, based on our recent work using diffusion tensor and resting-state functional magnetic resonance imaging (MRI)(2). This comprehensive approach has allowed us to evaluate both the cortical regions and the underlying fiber pathways that are affected after brain injury and to examine the ramifications of these disconnections for patients with language comprehension disorders. We have found that a complex system such as language requires an extensive and interactive network of brain regions. Numerous cortical areas play important roles in processing the different components of language, all supported by an extensive system of white matter pathways that connects them.1. Dronkers, N.F., Wilkins, D.P., Van Valin, R.D. Jr., Redfern, B.B. & Jaeger, J.J. Cognition, 2004, 92, 145-177.2. Turken, A.U. & Dronkers, N.F. Frontiers in Systems Neuroscience, 2011, 5, 1-20.




Dr. Dronkers received her PhD degree in neuropsychology from the University of California, Berkeley in 1985.Nina Dronkers is a consultant to the UCSF Memory and Aging Center and specializes in adult speech and language disorders. Dr. Dronkers assists in the evaluation of those individuals with progressive changes in their speech or language skills and participates in ongoing research concerning language abilities in dementia.She is currently the Director of the Center for Aphasia and Related Disorders and the Chief of the Audiology and Speech Pathology Service at the Department of Veterans Affairs Northern California Health Care System. She also holds an appointment as Adjunct Professor in the Departments of Neurology and Linguistics at the University of California, Davis.Dr. Dronkers' expertise is in the field of Aphasia and in understanding the language and communication deficits that can occur with neurological disease. She has conducted extensive research in this area and in the localization of language functions in the brain.

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