Pélagie M. Beeson
Pélagie M. Beeson

How do children learn to talk and then to write? Can individuals with speech or writing impairments caused by stroke or other acquired brain damage re-learn lost skills?

Pélagie M. Beeson is among the leading scientists using new technologies and new insights into the workings of the brain to answer such questions.

She described her methods and findings last month at the UA College of Science’s annual Science Lecture Series, the theme this year being “The Evolving Brain.”

As in past years, the Arizona Senior Academy is pleased to bring these lectures to Tucson’s east side audiences. Beeson will make a live encore presentation of her talk, “The Literate Brain,” next Thursday (March 20) at 3:30 p.m.

Beeson is Professor and Head of the Department of Speech, Language and Hearing Science at the UA. Her research interests include the study of the cognitive processes and neural substrates that support spoken and written language, and the nature and treatment of language impairments associated with stroke and progressive neurological disease.

Written language represents a relatively recent cultural invention, and unlike the development of spoken language, literacy requires explicit and prolonged instruction. How is this accomplished? Do unique regions of the brain develop in support of reading and spelling, or are these skills dependent upon brain regions involved in other perceptual and cognitive processes?

By studying disorders that arise following brain damage in previously literate adults, and by using brain imaging techniques to examine neural activity as healthy individuals engage in reading and spelling, a new understanding of the brain is being revealed. Further clarification comes from rehabilitation research that promotes the return of written language skills and provides a view of the brain’s plasticity.

Beeson received her Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees from the University of Kansas, and her Ph.D. from the University of Arizona.

Submitted by Mike Maharry, Academy Village Volunteer

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Helping Stroke Victims Re-learn to Speak, Write:March 2014
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