Cognitive neuroscience of normal and disordered language function

Lead Research Organisation: University of Cambridge
Department Name: Psychology

Abstract

We currently communicate our research to the clinical and academic community through research papers in peer-reviewed journals and national and international conferences. We make our research more widely known to the general public by contributing talks to major popular scientific meetings such as the British Association for the Advancement of Science, and public meetings at the British Academy. At a local level we have participated in the well-attended Cambridge Science Week, and have given talks at primary schools. However, this is an area where we intend to be substantially more proactive in the future. Our work provides insights into the way the brain represents and processes language, and is inherently of public interest. Our strategy will be: To provide media training to all staff who might be in contact with journalists; To examine all our forthcoming papers for newsworthiness; To issue a minimum of three press releases a year on new CSL findings; To continue to be involved in Science Week activities; To attempt to place four articles a year in publications for our key audiences [eg speech and language therapists, consultant neurologists, gerontologists, and patient organisations representing people who have had strokes]; To identify and approach 2-3 journalists with an interest in this field, [eg Clare Wilson at the New Scientist]; To improve our web site, making it more accessible to a general audience and adding more links to and from sites visited by our key audiences. We intend to develop a new strategy with the help of Martin Ince, a science communicator whose other clients include BBSRC, ESRC, AHRB and the DTI. He will do this work pro bono.

Technical Summary

The ability to communicate using language is a remarkable capacity that is unique to humans. In this research we aim to investigate this capacity in a cognitive neuroscience framework, closely integrating research into language function in the normal system, based on well-developed cognitive theory, with the study of acute and chronic damage to the underlying neural systems.
Cognitively based fMRI studies with normal adults will provide basic information on the patterns of cortical activation and functional connectivity elicited by different types of linguistic input. These results will be related to performance in chronic and acute stroke patients with various language deficits. We will combine behavioural tasks with multi-modal imaging techniques (e.g., efMRI, functional connectivity analysis, VBM-based correlational analyses, perfusion weighted imaging, diffusion tensor imaging) to illuminate the basis for normal function and to determine the source of preserved capacities in patients with aphasia. In particular, the research will investigate the functional and neural architecture of the core language system, asking how frontal and temporal cortices in the left and right hemispheres interact to support key lexical and syntactic functions. We will compare processing of simple words with more complex linguistic units (complex words, phrases, sentences), to track the manner in which the bilateral process of lexical access from speech links to left-dominant fronto-temporal processes, depending on the type and degree of combinatorial processing required in lexical and syntactic domains, and comparing performance in unimpaired controls with acute and chronic stroke patients.
These studies will enable us both to evaluate our theoretical account of the neurobiology of normal language function, and to address a set of additional key issues relating to the respective roles of neural plasticity, neural specialisation, and functional reorganisation in explaining and predicting how the language system responds to damage to its components. The extent to which preserved language function reflects processes of plasticity and re-organisation, or simply residual function in undamaged areas, bears on the central issue of language specialisation and may also provide insights into those language functions which are plausible candidates for remediation of function.

Publications

10 25 50
 
Description BBSRC LoLa Scheme (PI L Tyler) Systems Cognitive Neuroscience of Healthy Ageing: Population-Representative Studies of Functional Plasticity and Neural Change - shared with L Tyler, F Matthews, W Marslen Wilson, J Duncan, R Henson, A Calder
Amount £700,000 (GBP)
Funding ID BB/H008217/1 
Organisation Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC) 
Sector Public
Country United Kingdom
Start 10/2010 
End 09/2015
 
Description British Academy Larger Research Grant
Amount £79,500 (GBP)
Funding ID LRG-45583 
Organisation The British Academy 
Sector Academic/University
Country United Kingdom
Start 12/2007 
End 01/2009
 
Description Dunhill Medical Trust Project Grant
Amount £274,000 (GBP)
Funding ID R100/0209 
Organisation The Dunhill Medical Trust 
Sector Charity/Non Profit
Country United Kingdom
Start 10/2009 
End 02/2012
 
Description EPSRC Cognitive Systems Foresight Grant: Computational natural language processing and the neuro-cognition of language
Amount £718,195 (GBP)
Funding ID EP/F030061/1 
Organisation Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) 
Sector Academic/University
Country United Kingdom
Start 07/2008 
End 12/2011
 
Description ESRC, Small Project Grant
Amount £60,000 (GBP)
Funding ID RES-000-22-1968 
Organisation Economic and Social Research Council 
Sector Public
Country United Kingdom
Start 09/2006 
End 03/2008
 
Description European Research Council Advanced Investigator Grant
Amount £1,852,263 (GBP)
Funding ID 249640 
Organisation European Research Council (ERC) 
Sector Public
Country European Union (EU)
Start 05/2010 
End 04/2015
 
Description Marie Curie Intra-European Fellowship
Amount £109,000 (GBP)
Funding ID MEIF-CT-2006-041026 
Organisation Marie Sklodowska-Curie Actions 
Sector Academic/University
Country Global
Start 10/2006 
End 10/2008
 
Description SPARC Research Grant
Amount £40,000 (GBP)
Organisation Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) 
Sector Academic/University
Country United Kingdom
Start 10/2006 
End 09/2007
 
Description University of Cambridge Isaac Newton Trust Grant
Amount £43,800 (GBP)
Organisation University of Cambridge 
Department Isaac Newton Trust
Sector Academic/University
Country United Kingdom
Start 01/2009 
End 01/2010
 
Description BBSRC Cam-CAN 
Organisation Medical Research Council (MRC)
Department MRC Cognition and Brain Sciences Unit
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Public 
PI Contribution All partners are working together on this collaborative research project, known as Cam-CAN, funded by the BBSRC (Systems Cognitive Neuroscience of Healthy Ageing: Population-representative studies of functional plasticity and neural change). This is an interdisciplinary research project investigating changes in the brain across the adult life-span and their impact on changes in cognitive function, focussing on memory, attention, emotion, language and action. The study uses a population representative sample of 3000 healthy adults within Cambridge.
Collaborator Contribution Partners make equal research contributions.
Impact Outputs and outcomes will be reported on the ResearchFish system (BB/H008217/1).
Start Year 2009
 
Description BBSRC Cam-CAN 
Organisation University of Cambridge
Department Cambridge Institute of Public Health
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution All partners are working together on this collaborative research project, known as Cam-CAN, funded by the BBSRC (Systems Cognitive Neuroscience of Healthy Ageing: Population-representative studies of functional plasticity and neural change). This is an interdisciplinary research project investigating changes in the brain across the adult life-span and their impact on changes in cognitive function, focussing on memory, attention, emotion, language and action. The study uses a population representative sample of 3000 healthy adults within Cambridge.
Collaborator Contribution Partners make equal research contributions.
Impact Outputs and outcomes will be reported on the ResearchFish system (BB/H008217/1).
Start Year 2009
 
Description BBSRC Cam-CAN 
Organisation University of Cambridge
Department Department of Clinical Neurosciences
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution All partners are working together on this collaborative research project, known as Cam-CAN, funded by the BBSRC (Systems Cognitive Neuroscience of Healthy Ageing: Population-representative studies of functional plasticity and neural change). This is an interdisciplinary research project investigating changes in the brain across the adult life-span and their impact on changes in cognitive function, focussing on memory, attention, emotion, language and action. The study uses a population representative sample of 3000 healthy adults within Cambridge.
Collaborator Contribution Partners make equal research contributions.
Impact Outputs and outcomes will be reported on the ResearchFish system (BB/H008217/1).
Start Year 2009
 
Description BBSRC Cam-CAN 
Organisation University of Cambridge
Department Department of Psychiatry
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution All partners are working together on this collaborative research project, known as Cam-CAN, funded by the BBSRC (Systems Cognitive Neuroscience of Healthy Ageing: Population-representative studies of functional plasticity and neural change). This is an interdisciplinary research project investigating changes in the brain across the adult life-span and their impact on changes in cognitive function, focussing on memory, attention, emotion, language and action. The study uses a population representative sample of 3000 healthy adults within Cambridge.
Collaborator Contribution Partners make equal research contributions.
Impact Outputs and outcomes will be reported on the ResearchFish system (BB/H008217/1).
Start Year 2009
 
Description Max Planck Institute for Human Cognitive and Brain Sciences 
Organisation Ludwig Maximilian University of Munich (LMU Munich)
Department Max von Pettenkofer-Institute of Hygiene and Medical Microbiology
Country Germany 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution This is a research collaboration that should lead to a better understanding of white matter tracts and output in the form of academic publication. My research team has provided the collaborators with MRI data for English speakers, collected under my MRC research programme, and will contribute to the combined analyis of English/German speakers.
Collaborator Contribution The partner will provide comparable research data from German speakers and contribute to the analysis.
Impact None yet.
Start Year 2013
 
Description Stroke Unit Addenbrooke's Hospital 
Organisation Addenbrooke's Hospital
Department Lewin Stroke & Rehabilitation Unit
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Hospitals 
PI Contribution Collaborators at the Stroke Unit in Addenbrooke's Hospital, Cambridge are identifying suitable patients in the acute and chronic stages of stroke who could participate in MRI research.
Collaborator Contribution Collaborators at the Stroke Unit in Addenbrooke's Hospital, Cambridge are identifying suitable patients in the acute and chronic stages of stroke who could participate in MRI research.
Impact Pilot was completed but further funding was not secured to continue the study in Cambridge.
Start Year 2010
 
Description University of California of Davis 
Organisation University of California, Davis
Country United States 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution Collaborators at the University of California at Davis are providing us with fMRI and behavioural data from patients in the acute and chronic stages of stroke.
Collaborator Contribution Collaborators at the University of California at Davis are providing us with fMRI and behavioural data from patients in the acute and chronic stages of stroke.
Impact This collaboration has resulted in one successful joint funding application (Baynes, Swaab, Davis, Verro & Tyler, "Recovery of Language Function After Stroke". $25,000 Vision Grant from the UC Davis National Board of Advisors for a one year project). A researcher from UC Davis visited Cambridge in August 2010. No further outputs or outcomes are expected from this collaboration.
Start Year 2008
 
Description University of Cambridge Departments (EPSRC collaboration) 
Organisation Medical Research Council (MRC)
Department MRC Cognition and Brain Sciences Unit
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Public 
PI Contribution Collaborative research on EPSRC funded project 'Computational natural language processing and the neuro-cognition of language'
Collaborator Contribution Collaborative research on EPSRC funded project 'Computational natural language processing and the neuro-cognition of language'Collaborative research on EPSRC funded project 'Computational natural language processing and the neuro-cognition of language'Collaborative research on EPSRC funded project 'Computational natural language processing and the neuro-cognition of language'
Impact Outputs are recorded on Researchfish (EP/F030061/A)
Start Year 2008
 
Description University of Cambridge Departments (EPSRC collaboration) 
Organisation University of Cambridge
Department Computer Laboratory
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution Collaborative research on EPSRC funded project 'Computational natural language processing and the neuro-cognition of language'
Collaborator Contribution Collaborative research on EPSRC funded project 'Computational natural language processing and the neuro-cognition of language'Collaborative research on EPSRC funded project 'Computational natural language processing and the neuro-cognition of language'Collaborative research on EPSRC funded project 'Computational natural language processing and the neuro-cognition of language'
Impact Outputs are recorded on Researchfish (EP/F030061/A)
Start Year 2008
 
Description University of Cambridge Departments (EPSRC collaboration) 
Organisation University of Cambridge
Department Research Centre for English and Applied Linguistics
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution Collaborative research on EPSRC funded project 'Computational natural language processing and the neuro-cognition of language'
Collaborator Contribution Collaborative research on EPSRC funded project 'Computational natural language processing and the neuro-cognition of language'Collaborative research on EPSRC funded project 'Computational natural language processing and the neuro-cognition of language'Collaborative research on EPSRC funded project 'Computational natural language processing and the neuro-cognition of language'
Impact Outputs are recorded on Researchfish (EP/F030061/A)
Start Year 2008
 
Description BBC - James May's 20th Century 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact Participated in MRI section of the television programme 'James May's 20th Century', Episode 3, 'Body Fantastic' which was aired on BBC 2 on 17 July 2007.

Greater public awareness of what is involved in MRI research and how the brain is involved in object processing.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2007
 
Description Channel 4 - Dispatches 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact Participated in MRI section of the television programme 'Dispatches', episode titled 'Too old to work' which was aired on Channel 4 on 9 February 2009.

Greater public awareness that most older people remain cognitively able members of society.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2009
 
Description Different Strokes Conference 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Participants in your research and patient groups
Results and Impact 150-200 stroke survivors and their families attended a talk at the Different Strokes Annual Conference 2010, on the theme of 'Work after Stroke'. The talk focussed on research into the understanding of language and reorganisation of the brain following stroke damage.

Many follow-ups from physicians, patients and carers who were interested in our research, so the talk had an effect at the personal, scientific and medical level. A number of patients volunteered to assist with our research following the talk.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2010
 
Description Invited Talk: Freiburg, Oct 2011 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Other academic audiences (collaborators, peers etc.)
Results and Impact Tyler, L.K. Dorsal and ventral pathways in language processing. Processing along the dorsal and ventral steams in the brain [Discussant]; Freiburg Institute of Advanced Studies, Germany, October 2011.

Dissemination of results
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2011
 
Description Invited Talk: Uni of Edinburgh, Feb 2014 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Regional
Primary Audience Other academic audiences (collaborators, peers etc.)
Results and Impact Tyler, L.K. Reorganisation and plasticity in the neural language system. Annual John Marshall Lecture, Psychology Seminar Series, Department of Psychology and the Centre for Clinical Brain Sciences, University of Edinburgh, 10 February 2014.

Dissemination of results
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2014
 
Description Lecture - Alumni 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact Lecture on 'The resilient brain: language and ageing' at the Clare College alumni conference in Cambridge in June 2006.

none
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2006
 
Description Lecture - University of Cambridge Science Week 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Regional
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact Lecture on 'The Ageing Brain' at the annual University of Cambridge Science Week in March 2008. Due to popularity the lecture was repeated twice during the day to a full lecture theatre (approx. 150 people per lecture).

A number of people who attended the lecture subsequently volunteered to participate in the research.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2008
 
Description Lecture - University of Cambridge Science Week 2013 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Type Of Presentation Keynote/Invited Speaker
Geographic Reach Local
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact Lecture to approx 120 people on 'Healthy ageing and the brain: the good news' at the annual University of Cambridge Science Week in March 2013.

A number of people who attended the lecture subsequently volunteered to participate in the research.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2013
 
Description Public Lecture - British Academy/British Psychological Society prize lecture 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact 300 members of the public attended a talk titled 'The resilient brain: cognition and ageing', given as a joint British Academy/British Psychological Society Prize Lecture in September 2011. Followed by a drinks reception for the public. The lecture was recorded and made available on YouTube via the BA & BPS websites.

The talk generated some media interest, and generated a lot of discussion amongst those who attended.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2011
 
Description Public lecture InSights Public Lecture series - Newcastle University 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Regional
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact 350 members of the public attended a talk titled 'The resilient brain: cognition and ageing', given as a British Academy lecture in association with the School of Psychology, Newcastle University (part of the InSights Public Lecture series, 'Coming of Age'), University of Newcastle, October 2011. A copy of the presentation and a recording of the lecture is available on the University of Newcastle website.

no notable impact
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2011
 
Description University of the Third Age lecture 'The resilient brain: cognition and ageing' 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Type Of Presentation Keynote/Invited Speaker
Geographic Reach Local
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact Talk given as part of the University of the Third Age Norah Boyce Science Lecture Series

no impact
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2013