Professor of Developmental Neuropsychology , Wellcome Principal Research Fellow
I am Professor of Developmental Neuropsychology and a Wellcome Principal Research Fellow at the Department of Experimental Psychology in Oxford and Adjunct Professor at The University of Western Australia, Perth. The primary aim of my research is to increase our understanding of why some children have specific language impairment (SLI), a condition diagnosed when the child has unusual difficulty in language acquisition, despite normal development in other areas. The approach taken in this programme is to obtain convergent evidence using a range of methods and populations. The question can be addressed at three levels: behavioural, neurological, and etiological. At the behavioural level, we can ask what it is about language learning that gives these children so much difficulty. In particular, we shall focus on the role of auditory perceptual deficits in causing SLI. At the neurological level, we will look for differences in brain processing between children with SLI and other groups. At the etiological level, the goal is to document genetic and environmental influences that can account for phenotypic variation in language development. One difficulty for those studying SLI is that it is a heterogeneous disorder with ill-defined boundaries. A major goal of this research is to refine our understanding of the different phenotypes that are included under the umbrella of SLI, and to clarify how SLI relates to other disorders in which communication is impaired, notably autism, specific reading disability, hearing impairment and Down syndrome.