Dr. Nina F. Dronkers
Prinicipal Investigator

Nina F. Dronkers is an Adjunct Professor at the University of California, Berkeley in the Department of Psychology and an Adjunct Professor at the University of California, Davis in the Department of Neurology. She is a former Research Career Scientist and Director of the Center for Aphasia and Related Disorders with the Department of Veterans Affairs Northern California Health Care System.

Dr. Dronkers’ research and clinical interests have always focused on understanding the speech, language, and cognitive disorders that occur after injury to the brain. She and her colleagues have worked extensively with individuals who have aphasia to understand the relationship between areas of the brain affected by injury and the speech and language disorders that ensue. Using novel techniques, Dr. Dronkers and her colleagues have isolated numerous brain regions that play critical roles in the processing of speech and language, as well as how these relate to other cognitive skills. Her latest work involves analyzing the structural connections that contribute to language and cognitive processing through advanced work with diffusion neuroimaging.

Highlighted Publications:

Dronkers, N.F., Ivanova, M.V. & Baldo, J.V. What do language disorders reveal about brain-language relationships? From classic models to network approaches. Journal of the International Neuropsychological Society, 2017, 23 (9-10),741-754. Special 50th-anniversary issue.

Turken, U., & Dronkers, N. F. (2011). The neural architecture of the language comprehension network: converging evidence from lesion and connectivity analyses. Frontiers in systems neuroscience, 5.

Dronkers, N. F., Plaisant, O., Iba-Zizen, M. T., & Cabanis, E. A. (2007). Paul Broca’s historic cases: high resolution MR imaging of the brains of Leborgne and Lelong. Brain, 130(5), 1432-1441.

Dronkers, N. F., Wilkins, D. P., Van Valin Jr, R. D., Redfern, B. B., & Jaeger, J. J. (2004). Lesion analysis of the brain areas involved in language comprehension. Cognition, 92(1-2), 145-177.

Bates, E., Wilson, S. M., Saygin, A. P., Dick, F., Sereno, M. I., Knight, R. T., & Dronkers, N. F. (2003). Voxel-based lesion–symptom mapping. Nature neuroscience, 6(5), 448.

Dronkers, N. F. (1996). A new brain region for coordinating speech articulation. Nature, 384(6605), 159.

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Dr. Maria V. Ivanova

Maria V. Ivanova is a Research Scientist at UC Berkeley.  Before she worked as a researcher at the Center for Aphasia and Related Disorders at the VA Northern California Health Care System. Formerly she was also a senior research fellow at the Center for Language and Brain at the National Research University HSE in Moscow, Russia.  She holds an M.S. in clinical psychology and a Ph.D. in Speech and Language Sciences. 

In her research, she explores structural and functional lesions that give rise to language and cognitive deficits and neural changes that promote recovery.  Her work has also focused on developing assessment tools for investigating cognitive and language deficits in different patient populations. She is interested in linking attentional and memory deficits to language impairments at both psychological and neural levels.  Currently, she is working closely with Dr. Nina Dronkers on a joint grant project looking at the neural underpinnings of changes in language abilities in the first year post-stroke

Highlighted Publications:

Ivanova M.V., Malyutina, S., & Dragoy, O. (in press) Advancing neurolinguistics in Russia: Experience and implications of building experimental research and evidence-based practices. Frontiers in Psychology.

Ivanova, M.V., Zhong, A., Turken, A., Baldo, J.V. & Dronkers, N.F. (2021). Functional contributions of the arcuate fasciculus to language. Frontiers in Human Neuroscience, 15: 672665. doi: 10.3389/fnhum.2021.672665.

Ivanova, M.V., Herron, T.J., Dronkers, N.F., & Baldo, J.V. (2021). An empirical comparison of univariate versus multivariate methods for the analysis of brain-behavior mapping. Human Brain Mapping, 42, 1070-1101. doi: 10.1002/hbm.25278

Ivanova, M.V., Dragoy, O.V., Kuptsova, S.V., Akinina, Yu.S., Petryshevskii, А.G, Fedinа, О.N., Turken, A., Shklovsky, V.M., & Dronkers, N.F. (2018).  Data from two different working memory tasks reveal distinct neural basis of verbal working memory: A VLSM study. Neuropsychologia, 115, 25-41.

Dronkers, N.F., Ivanova, M.V., & Baldo, J.V. (2017). What do language disorders reveal about the brain? From classic models to network approaches.  Journal of the International Neuropsychological Society, 23, 741-754.

Ivanova, M. V., Kuptsova, S. V., & Dronkers, N. F. (2017). A comparison of two working memory tasks in aphasia. Aphasiology, 31, 265-281.  http://doi.org/10.1080/02687038.2016.1172699

Ivanova, M. V., Isaev, D. Yu, Dragoy, O. V., Akinina, Yu. S., Petrushevsky, A. G., Fedina, O. N., Shklovsky, V.M., & Dronkers, D. F. (2016). Diffusion-tensor imaging of major white matter tracts and their role in language processing in aphasia.  Cortex, 85, 165-181. doi:10.1016/j.cortex.2016.04.019

Ivanova, M.V., & Hallowell, B. (2013). A tutorial on aphasia test development in any language: Key substantive and psychometric considerations. Aphasiology, 27, 891-920. DOI: 10.1080/02687038.2013.805728

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Amber Richardson, M.S. CCC-SLP

Amber received her bachelor’s degree in Psychology from the College of William and Mary and completed her masters degree in Speech-Language Pathology at California State University East Bay. Amber currently works as a staff Speech-Language Pathologist at the Department of Veterans Affairs in Northern California. She is pursuing her clinical doctorate (SLPD) in Speech Language Pathology at Northwestern  University where her focus includes the study of aphasia group treatments, outcome measures, and continuum of care for persons with aphasia. 

Research assistants

Alexis Pracar

Alexis graduated from George Washington University in 2018 with a B.S. in Public Health. She spent her first-year post-grad working on a startup for baby brain development. She’s now assisting Dr. Dronkers and Dr. Ivanova with their current research. Alexis also volunteers at the VA in the Center for Aphasia and Related Disorders stroke support group. Alexis will begin the Cognitive Neuroscience Ph.D. program at UC Berkeley in the fall of 2020. She is interested in language recovery post-stroke as well as the study of music in the brain. Longterm, Alexis wants to create partnerships between academics and entrepreneurs to positively impact humanity.

Jessica Lawien

Jessica Lawien received her associate degree in nursing in 2015 from Cardinal Stritch University in Wisconsin. In 2018, she received her bachelor’s in the same field from University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. While working as a registered nurse at the bedside, she continued to be fascinated with the human response, with an emphasis on the neurologic response. After volunteering with a local band to assess how their music was affecting the crowd, she decided to pursue cognitive neuroscience as a psychology post-baccalaureate student at UC Berkeley. Jessica is interested in music’s effect on the brain as well as compensation methods of the right hemisphere after damage to the left hemisphere. She looks forward to bringing together art and neuroscience.

Anjelica Vance

Anjelica is a current undergraduate student at the University of California, Berkeley. She plans to graduate in 2021 with a dual degree in Molecular Neurobiology and Biological Anthropology with a minor in Child Development. She transferred from UPenn where she was volunteering at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia. It was there that she formulated her dream of becoming a pediatric neurosurgeon, potentially focusing on pediatric stroke. Anjelica currently is involved in the Aphasia Recovery Lab at Cal and the Pediatric Stroke Lab at UCSF. She hopes to one day be part of UCSF’s MD-PhD program. She also loves swimming, hiking, and her dog Winston

Sandhya Kannan

Sandhya is a 4th-year undergraduate student at UC Berkeley studying Cognitive Science and Linguistics. Over the years, she has been involved with various research in Cognitive Neuroscience from working memory to sleep. She has always been very interested in language and cognition. This combination gives a unique insight into both domain-specific and domain-general aspects of the brain. She is interested in researching the tie between language and working memory, particularly in the contexts of language disorders and bilingualism. She hopes to pursue a Ph.D. in a few years after honing her research interests further.

Vanessa Anderson

Vanessa is a UC Berkeley undergrad graduating in 2023. She is majoring in Molecular & Cell Biology and minoring in Bioengineering. She is interested in interweaving technology and neurobiology with a focus on speech and language. She also has a strong passion for mental health and for reducing disparities in healthcare. In the future, Vanessa hopes to earn an MD or MD-PhD degree and conduct clinical research. In her free time, Vanessa likes to walk her two dogs, play tennis, and embroider.

Lab Alumni

Kevin Dalziel

Kevin currently attends California State University East Bay’s Speech, Language, and Hearing and Sciences graduate program. Kevin Dalziel received his bachelor’s degree in psychology from San Francisco State University in the Spring of 2015. After graduating he started working and volunteering at the VA Northern California Health Care System in Martinez. There he worked with Dr. Patterson on Dr. McNeil’s multi-site research study, “Aphasic comprehension: Conflict resolution and short-term Memory”. At the VA he continues to volunteer at the Center for Aphasia and Related Disorder’s stroke support group. He assisted Dr. Dronkers and Dr. Ivanova on their research project, “Neural mechanisms and recovery of language production deficits in aphasia”. 

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