Primary Progressive Aphasia

Our team is interested in progressive speech and language disorders, called primary progressive aphasia (PPA). PPA is a progressive neurogenic disorder where the initial and primary deficits are in the areas of communication. We are also currently investigating treatment techniques for PPA, which involves new and traditional speech and language therapy techniques.


The new UCSF Dyslexia Program is one of the first to evaluate children and adults. Here at UCSF, we believe that dyslexia is simply a difference, and we want to explore all the advantages that come with that difference. Through exploring genetics, neuroimaging, and many areas of cognition from visuospatial abilities to emotions to executive function, we hope to learn more about the dyslexic mind.


Part of our research focuses on studying the underlying cognitive mechanisms and neuroanatomy of both speech and limb apraxia present in patients across different neurodegenerative disease syndromes. Speech apraxia is a disorder affecting the planning and execution of movements for speech and limb apraxia is a disorder affecting the planning and execution of skilled limb movements. His research methodology includes correlation of neuropsychological and psychophysics behavioral measures with brain images using various neuroimaging analysis techniques. We work primarily with Dr. Rabinovici in a cohort study of early-onset Alzheimer’s disease and Dr. Sabes in his sensorymotor integration and learning lab.

Language Development After Early Brain Injury

We are studying language and cognitive development in children with a history of injury to the brain (due to stroke, bleeding, trauma, etc.). Our goals are to understand how the brain recovers and compensates after early injury, what kinds of deficits persist after damage to particular parts of the brain, and whether there are any cognitive, social or neuroanatomical factors that predict better recovery and that might lead to better treatments for developmental language disorders in the future.


We also study nonverbal aspects of communication such as prosody, the melody of speech, which conveys additional layers of linguistic and emotional information to spoken words. For example, prosody can convey anger, sarcasm, or whether a word is a question or statement.