Dr. Brenda Rapp

SLI Title

Professor, Department of Cognitive Science


Words....Even a single word has great power to inform or provoke us. My primary research interests lie in furthering our understanding of the cognitive processes and neural substrates that support written and spoken word production and comprehension.

At a cognitive level, this work includes examining questions such: What do we know when we know the spellings of words? To what extent are lexical phonological orthographic, semantic and syntactic processes independent from one another? If they interact, at what level of processing? And, in what manner? Most of this work involves the detailed examination of the language performance of individuals who have suffered neural injury (typically from stroke) that has affected language functions. These cognitive neuropsychological data provide a "window" into the organization and internal structure of lexical processing mechanisms. In this context, I have particular interests in written word production (spelling) and dysgraphia.

At the neural level, I am interested in understanding the neural substrates that support written language production (spelling) and comprehension (reading), as well as in understanding the changes that support new orthographic learning in neurally intact individuals and the  recovery of written language function in cases of neural injury. This work contributes to furthering our understanding of neural plasticity and involves using fMRI (functional magnetic resonance imaging).

I am very interested in the question of how neural data can be used to answer cognitive questions.  This research currently involves the application of multi-voxel pattern analysis techniques to fMRI data. I also carry out research on somatosensory representation/reorganization, spatial frames of reference and the perception of second language phonology.

Affiliated Research