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Tuesday, October 5, 8:30 - 9:30 am PDTLog In to set timezone

Keynote – Rosemary Varley

Rosemary VarleyAutonomy or interdependence of language and non-verbal cognition: the language and thought debate from the perspective of global aphasia

Speaker: Rosemary Varley, University College London

Language is more than a capacity used for interpersonal communication. Linguistic representations can also form a part of reasoning in other cognitive domains. However, it is unclear whether the role of language in non-verbal domains is a necessary one, or whether it represents an optional resource that is recruited by neurotypical people in the face of challenging or highly intentional processing demands. One method to explore language reuse in domains such as calculation, mental state reasoning or event perception is to examine the abilities of people with severe aphasia. In a series of studies, we have shown residual capacity despite profound aphasia in such domains. In this talk, I will outline these findings and show how they inform questions regarding neural reuse/shared resource, as opposed to specialized neurocognitive mechanisms dedicated to specific functions.

About Rosemary Varley

Rosemary Varley is Professor of Acquired Language Disorders in the Division of Psychology & Language Sciences at University College London. Previous posts have included work in the NHS, and appointments at the Universities of Hong Kong and Sheffield. Her research is funded by The Stroke Association, The Alzheimer’s Society, and UK Research Councils (ESRC and AHRC). Most of her work is directed to the investigation of post-stroke language impairment, but she has also explored language disruptions in the dementias and schizophrenia. Major research themes are exploration of grammatical processing and speech control impairments (apraxia) from the perspective of usage-based approaches to language, as well as their application in other domains of psycholinguistics, such as bilingualism. This work has informed interventions for post-stroke speech and language disorders, with a focus on intensive behavioural therapy in combination with non-invasive brain stimulation. A second core theme – and the topic of this talk – is exploration of residual reasoning ability in individuals with severe aphasia. This evidence informs debates as to the autonomy or, alternatively, the interconnectedness of language with other cognitive mechanisms in the mature/adult cognitive architecture.