Written language, aphasia and dyslexia, rehabilitation, bilingualism.
The main goal of my research programme is to contribute to a better understanding of the psychological and neural mechanisms that underlie language processing in neuro-typical populations as well as their breakdown in neurological conditions. Within the field of written language processing I am best known for my work using cognitive neuropsychological methods, that is, analyses of the performance of brain-damaged individuals, to inform models of normal cognitive function, particularly with regards to written language. Over the years, I have advanced knowledge on a number of important theoretical questions in this field including (a) the role of phonology in written word production, (b) the nature of sublexical spelling processes (i.e., those used to generate plausible spellings for new words) (c) the relationship between lexical (memorised) and sublexical processes in spelling, (d) the structure of orthographic representations (i.e., the mental representation for units smaller than the word), (e) the relationship between reading and spelling processes. In addition to my work with adult speakers, a strong component of my research programme relates to the acquisition of reading and spelling and on the cognitive deficits responsible for developmental dyslexia.
The greatest originality and strength of my research programme is that it seeks to answer some fundamental questions about language processing by gathering complementary evidence from the study of different populations (brain-damaged patients, healthy adults, and children), using different methodologies (e.g., reaction time studies, corpus analysis, ERPs, fMRI, tDCS) and involving different languages (mostly English, Welsh, and French).
In the past few year, my work has focused more particularly on the interactions between language systems in bilingualism (mostly Welsh-English), on the neural representation of multiple languages, and on second language learning. As part of this research, I have created theoretically motivated protocols for the assessment and rehabilitation of language disorders in Welsh-English bilingual adults with brain-damage. Thanks to an ongoing collaboration with the Speech and Language Therapy services of BCUHB, I am expanding the impact of this work to benefit clinicians nationally and internationally.
My main teaching interests are in the area of the cognitive neuropsychology of language and bilingualism. I currently offer a Year 3 Module called 'Brain and Language' and contribute to other modules at Masters level.