Friday, October 23, 2009

You study...what?

When people ask what I do/study -- even people I know well -- I'm a little stumped as to what to say. If I give them the short-n-sweet, they respond with a glazed over look. If I give them the long-and-longer,'s pretty much the same look. Now that I've had a year or so of practice, here's how I've boiled it down: start with one word, and if they want more, go to a phrase, then a sentence, then a paragraph. For example: "Rebecca, what is it that you study again?"

Neurological disorders impact on language.
Aphasia, which is a disorder which often follows a stroke and impacts language processing.
Aphasia. You see, after a stroke, some people have one or more lesions in their brain which impair their ability to understand and/or produce language. While their speech musculature might be completely fine, they just can't connect concepts with words to a greater or lesser degree.
(And if they really want the whole story -- I've given this answer maybe once -- add to the above:) More recently, some people believe that aphasia co-occurs with impairments in attention and working memory. My research looks at how attention and working memory might play a larger role in word finding difficulties, the primary characteristic of aphasia, than we think.

Are you still with me? No? Oh well.

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