The Center was established in 2013 and is funded by a $12 million NIH, NIDCD Clinical Research Center grant. One of NIH’s top priorities is to support research that advances knowledge about recovery after stroke – how the brain recovers and how treatment and other cognitive and neural factors affect recovery. These priorities are in line with the core goals of the Center. CNLR studies examine the neural substrates of language, the natural history of language and brain recovery after stroke and the reorganization of language functions in the adult brain. A primary goal is to examine the effects of psycholinguistically based treatments for aphasia that have been shown in previous research to improve language. The treatments we provide use what is known about how language is processed normally in order to stimulate optimal neural activity to support recovered language. CNLR research also seeks to identify cognitive and neural biomarkers of recovery to improve prognosis of language recovery.

CNLR studies are focused in three primary areas:

  1. Recovery of Naming Deficits
  2. Recovery of Spelling and Writing Deficits
  3. Recovery of Sentence Processing Deficits

Our Naming Deficits Project is centered in Boston, MA and is led by Dr. David Caplan (Harvard University), an expert in the brain and language, and Dr. Swathi Kiran (Boston University), an expert in naming deficits in aphasia. Together, they study the recovery of naming abilities and associated recovery of brain functioning in chronic anomic aphasia.

Our Spelling and Writing Deficits Project is centered in Baltimore, MD and is led by Dr. Brenda Rapp (Johns Hopkins University), an expert in acquired dysgraphia research. This project investigates the effects of treatment for spelling abilities associated recovery of brain functioning in chronic dysgraphia.

Our Sentence Processing Deficits Project is centered in Chicago, IL and is led by the Director of CNLR, Dr. Cynthia Thompson (Northwestern University), an expert in sentence processing and neural plasticity. This project examines the effects of treatment for sentence comprehension and production deficits and associated recovery of brain functioning in chronic agrammatic aphasia.

All CNLR projects use the same experimental design and a common set of language/behavioral and neuroimaging tasks are administered to all participants. The treatment provided at each site follows the principles of the Complexity Account of Treatment Efficacy (CATE) (Thompson, et al., 2003): training complex items and/or structures promotes generalizations to simple items and/or structures. Data from the common set of language/behavioral tests and neuroimaging studies will offer insight into recovery patterns (learning and generalization as well as brain changes) occurring as a result of the treatment. This work also will help to identify factors related to recovery, including both cognitive variables (e.g., learning and memory) and brain variables (e.g., site and extent of brain damage, blood flow in undamaged brain tissue, the integrity of connections between brain regions (i.e., white matter tracts), and brain activity during rest).

The methodological synchrony across all projects within CNLR allows for a comprehensive study of language recovery across language domains.

Supported by: National Institutes of Health (NIH, NIDCD) P50DC012283