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Speech production is dependent both on regional changes within the left inferior frontal cortex (LIFC) and also on modulation between and within anatomically distinct but functionally connected brain regions. Interregional changes are particularly important in speech recovery after stroke, when neural plasticity changes underpinning behavioural improvements are observed in both ipsilesional and contralesional frontal cortices. It is increasingly understood that recruitment of LIFC, including Broca’s area is necessary to allow learning of a speech task. However, the neural mechanisms underpinning plasticity within this region and other language and cognitive control regions in temporal and parietal cortex, are not well understood. In this talk I will outline recent studies ongoing in our lab where we use functional magnetic resonance imaging to simultaneously identify neural changes within speech systems in both healthy adults and people with aphasia in response to transcranial direct current stimulation (tDCS) applied to LIFC and aphasia treatment interventions. Together, these findings shed light on the interactions between the major frontal-temporal-parietal network nodes underpinning speech plasticity, offering a potential framework from which to optimize future interventions to improve speech function after stroke.
About Jennifer Crinion
Jennifer Crinion is a Professor of Cognitive Neuroscience at the Institute of Cognitive Neuroscience, University College London. From 2016 she is supported by a Wellcome Senior Clinical Fellowship. She joined the Institute of Cognitive Neuroscience when awarded an MRC Clinical Scientist Fellowship in 2008 and has been co-lead of the Neurotherapeutics Group since 2014. Jenny first qualified as a speech and language therapist (SLT) from University College London and received a PhD in Cognitive Neuroscience from Imperial College London in 2005.
Her clinical research program is dedicated to understanding the neural mechanisms of aphasia and how lesioned brains respond to different and novel treatment interventions. This requires integration of both research and clinical infrastructures, which as an academic SLT at University College London/Hospitals, UK she is well placed to do so. The translational cognitive neuroscience approach is multi-pronged (neuroimaging, behaviour, non-invasive brain stimulation) investigating the neural mechanisms underlying variability in treatment response and factors that relate to aphasia outcomes. Clinically, she is also a consultant SLT at the National Hospital of Neurology and Neurosurgery, University College London Hospitals responsible for the delivery and strategic development of a national specialist Aphasia Clinic and since 2019 its first NHS Intensive Comprehensive Aphasia Rehabilitation Programme for chronic stroke patients. By understanding the mechanisms of recovery her goal is to develop new treatment approaches and predict which is best for each person living with aphasia, so we can improve outcomes and long-term prognosis.