Keynote Speakers

Prof David Howard, Newcastle University, United Kingdom 

Professor David Howard is a speech and language therapist and cognitive neuropsychologist. He has been a research professor at Newcastle University since 1996. His research is on language processing in people with normal language and those with language disorders, with a particular focus on aphasia and aphasia therapy. He is an author of clinical tests in a variety of languages, has co-authored 10 books and more than 120 papers.


Prof. Deborah Hersh, Edith Cowan University, Australia 

Deborah Hersh, PhD, is an Associate Professor in Speech Pathology and is a Fellow of Speech Pathology Australia. She has nearly 30 years of clinical and research experience in speech pathology in the UK and Australia. She has published and presented extensively in the areas of discharge from therapy, professional client relationships, clinical ethics, group work, rehabilitation goal setting and acquired communication disorder in Aboriginal Australians following stroke and brain injury. In 1995, Deborah started the Talkback Group Programme for Aphasia, established the Talkback Association for Aphasia in 1999, and was awarded life membership in 2009. Deborah was an affiliate of the NHMRC CCRE Aphasia Rehabilitation and was involved in the development of the Australian Aphasia Rehabilitation Pathway. She was also a member of the expert working party for the development of the Stroke Foundation 2010 Clinical Guidelines and more recently for their 2017 revision, and contributed to their Enable Me website. Deborah has served on the Editorial board of the Journal of Clinical Practice in Speech-Language Pathology, has been a guest editor for Aphasiology, and is an Associate Editor of the International Journal of Speech-Language Pathology. She served as Chair of the Scientific Planning Committee for the 2016 Speech Pathology Australia National Conference, and currently is Deputy Chair of the Australian Aphasia Association. Deborah supervises postgraduate research at Masters and PhD level and coordinates the Speech Pathology Honours program at ECU.She holds an Adjunct position in Public Health at Flinders University. Deborah has over 80 publications, and presents her work nationally and internationally. She was a CI on the NHMRC-funded Missing Voicesresearch exploring experiences of, and services for, Aboriginal Australians after stroke and brain injury, and is now CI with the NHMRC Partnership grant: Enhancing rehabilitation services for AboriginalAustralians after brain injury, and the Lowitja grant “Yarning Together”. She is also a CI with the LUNA research team based at City University, London.


Prof. Beth Jefferies, University of York, UK

Beth Jefferies completed an MA in Experimental Psychology at the University of Oxford and a PhD in Neuropsychology at the University of Bristol. She then moved to the University of Manchester in 2003, where she worked as an RCUK Research Fellow investigating disorders of semantic cognition and language following stroke and dementia. During these years, she started to use complementary neuroscientific methods (transcranial magnetic stimulation; functional neuroimaging) to investigate hypotheses about the neural basis of semantic cognition and language that emerged from the ongoing patient studies. In 2007, she moved to the Department of Psychology at the University of York.

Beth currently holds grants from BBSRC, ERC and Stroke Association which employ multiple methods to explore the neural basis of semantic cognition and conceptual-linguistic interactions, including the evolution of cortical processing over time (using magnetoencephalography). A new project is also using electrical stimulation (tDCS) to explore the potential for improved rehabilitation of acquired disorders of semantics and language, building on Beth’s previous work that examined the underlying cause of semantic deficits in different patient groups.


Prof. Brenda Rapp, John Hopkins University, USA

Words....Even a single word has great power to inform or provoke us. Brenda Rapp's primary research interests lie in furthering our understanding of the cognitive processes and neural substrates that support written and spoken word production and comprehension.

At a cognitive level, this work includes examining questions such: What do we know when we know the spellings of words? To what extent are lexical phonological orthographic, semantic and syntactic processes independent from one another? If they interact, at what level of processing? And, in what manner? Most of this work involves the detailed examination of the language performance of individuals who have suffered neural injury (typically from stroke) that has affected language functions. These cognitive neuropsychological data provide a "window" into the organization and internal structure of lexical processing mechanisms. In this context, I have particular interests in written word production (spelling) and dysgraphia.

At the neural level, Brenda is interested in understanding the neural substrates that support written language production (spelling) and comprehension (reading), as well as in understanding  the changes that support new orthographic learning in neurally intact individuals and the  recovery of written language function in cases of neural injury. This work contributes to furthering our understanding of neural plasticity and involves using fMRI (functional magnetic resonance imaging).

She is also very interested in the question of how neural data can be used to answer cognitive questions.  This research currently involves the application of multi-voxel pattern analysis techniques to fMRI data.

Brenda also carries out research on somatosensory representation/reorganization, spatial frames of reference and the perception of second language phonology.