Adult-onset Disorders

We are interested in language and other domains such as music and math, as well as learning and memory more generally, in a variety of adult-onset disorders. These include aphasiaAlzheimer’s diseaseParkinson’s disease, and Huntington’s disease, as well as other adult-onset disorders

Aphasia

Are lexical and grammatical abilities, in morphology and in other aspects of language, dissociable in aphasia, or in particular types of aphasia? Are lexical and grammatical impairments linked to lesions of particular brain structures? What is the relation between these impairments and declarative and procedural memory? What neurocognitive systems do aphasics use to compensate for their deficits? We are investigating these and related questions in aphasia.

Evidence suggests that anterior aphasia, which is associated with frontal lesions, is linked to grammatical more than lexical impairments, whereas posterior aphasia, which is associated with temporal/parietal lesions, is linked to lexical more than grammatical difficulties (Ullman et al., 1997; Ullman et al., 2005). This may be due to grammar being learned and processed primarily in procedural memory, while lexical memory depends on declarative memory  (Ullman et al., 1997; Ullman, 2004). Interestingly, as with various other disorders (see Declarative Memory Compensation Hypothesis) lexical/declarative memory appears to compensate for grammatical deficits in aphasia (Drury and Ullman, 2002; Ullman and Pullman, 2015). 

Publications:

Ullman, M.T. and Pullman, M.Y. (2015). Adapt and overcome: Can a single brain system compensate for autism, dyslexia and OCD? Scientific American Mind. July/August 2015, 24-25.

Ullman, M.T. and Pullman, M.Y. (2015). A compensatory role for declarative memory in neurodevelopmental disorders.  Neuroscience and Biobehavioral Reviews. 51, 205-222.

Ullman, M. T. (2008). The role of memory systems in disorders of language. In B. Stemmer & H. A. Whitaker (Eds.), Handbook of the Neuroscience of Language. Oxford, UK: Elsevier Ltd. pp. 189-198.

Ullman, M. T., Pancheva, R., Love, T., Yee, E., Swinney, D., Hickok, G. (2005). Neural correlates of lexicon and grammar: Evidence from the production, reading, and judgment of inflection in aphasia. Brain and Language, 93(2), 185-238.

Ullman, M. T. (2004). Contributions of neural memory circuits to language: The declarative/procedural model. Cognition, 92(1-2), 231-270.

Drury, J. E. and Ullman, M. T. (2002). The memorization of complex forms in aphasia: Implications for recovery. Brain and Language, 83. 139-141.

Ullman, M. T., Corkin, S., Coppola, M., Hickok, M., Growdon, J. H., Koroshetz, W. J., and Pinker, S. (1997). A neural dissociation within language: Evidence that the mental dictionary is part of declarative memory, and that grammatical rules are processed by the procedural system. Journal of Cognitive Neuroscience, 9(2), 266-276.

Alzheimer's Disease

We are interested in the neurocognition of language and memory in Alzheimer’s disease (AD). We have found that patients with AD have more difficulty with lexical than grammatical abilities, both in English (Ullman et al., 1997) and Italian (Walenski et al., 2009). This may be due to the dependence of lexical abilities on declarative memory, which is impaired in the disorder, while grammar depends importantly on procedural memory, which remains relatively spared (Ullman et al., 1997; Ullman, 2004). 

Publications:

M. Walenski, K. Sosta, S. Cappa, and M.T. Ullman. (2009). Deficits on irregular verbal morphology in Italian-speaking Alzheimer's disease patients: Evidence from present tense and past participle production. Neuropsychologia, 47. 1245-1255.

Ullman, M. T. (2008). The role of memory systems in disorders of language. In B. Stemmer & H. A. Whitaker (Eds.), Handbook of the Neuroscience of Language. Oxford, UK: Elsevier Ltd. pp. 189-198.

Ullman, M. T. (2004). Contributions of neural memory circuits to language: The declarative/procedural model. Cognition, 92(1-2), 231-270.

Ullman, M. T., Corkin, S., Coppola, M., Hickok, M., Growdon, J. H., Koroshetz, W. J., and Pinker, S. (1997). A neural dissociation within language: Evidence that the mental dictionary is part of declarative memory, and that grammatical rules are processed by the procedural system. Journal of Cognitive Neuroscience, 9(2), 266-276.

Parkinson's Disease

We are interested in the neurocognition of language and memory in Parkinson’s disease (PD). We have found that patients with PD have more difficulty with grammatical than lexical abilities (Ullman et al., 1997). This may be due to the dependence of grammatical abilities on procedural memory, which is impaired in the disorder (Clark et al., 2014), while lexical memory depends importantly on declarative memory, which remains relatively spared (Ullman et al., 1997; Ullman, 2004). Interestingly, we found that deep brain stimulation of the basal ganglia (subthalamic nucleus) leads to degraded performance at grammatical but not lexical abilities, while it concurrently results in improved motor function (Phillips et al., 2012). Evidence also suggests that declarative memory may compensate for procedural memory and other deficits in Parkinson’s disease (Ullman and Pullman, 2015). In fact, as expected by a greater dependence of grammar in women than men (see Effects of Sex Differences), women with Parkinson’s appear to compensate for their grammatical deficits with lexical/declarative memory (Ullman et al., 2002). 

Publications: 

Ullman, M.T. and Pullman, M.Y. (2015). Adapt and overcome: Can a single brain system compensate for autism, dyslexia and OCD? Scientific American Mind. July/August 2015, 24-25.

Ullman, M.T. and Pullman, M.Y. (2015). A compensatory role for declarative memory in neurodevelopmental disorders.  Neuroscience and Biobehavioral Reviews. 51, 205-222.

Clark, G.M., Lum, J. A. G., & Ullman, M. T. (2014). A Meta-analysis and meta-regression of serial reaction time task performance in Parkinson's disease. Neuropsychology. 28(6), 945-958.

Phillips, L., Litcofsky, K.A., Pelster, M., Gelfand, M., Ullman, M.T., and Charles, P.D. (2012) Subthalamic nucleus deep brain stimulation impacts language in early Parkinson's disease. PLoS ONE. 7(8). e42829.

Ullman, M. T. (2008). The role of memory systems in disorders of language. In B. Stemmer & H. A. Whitaker (Eds.), Handbook of the Neuroscience of Language. Oxford, UK: Elsevier Ltd. pp. 189-198.

Ullman, M. T. (2004). Contributions of neural memory circuits to language: The declarative/procedural model. Cognition, 92(1-2), 231-270.

Ullman, M. T., Estabrooke, I. V., Steinhauer, K., Brovetto, C., Pancheva, R., Ozawa, K., Mordecai, K., Maki, P. (2002). Sex differences in the neurocognition of language. Brain and Language, 83. 141-143.

Ullman, M. T., Corkin, S., Coppola, M., Hickok, M., Growdon, J. H., Koroshetz, W. J., and Pinker, S. (1997). A neural dissociation within language: Evidence that the mental dictionary is part of declarative memory, and that grammatical rules are processed by the procedural system. Journal of Cognitive Neuroscience, 9(2), 266-276.

Huntington's Disease  

We are interested in the neurocognition of language and memory in Huntington’s disease (HD). We have found that patients with HD show evidence of unsuppressed grammatical rule use, both in English (Ullman et al., 1997) and in Hungarian, even in individuals who are pre-symptomatic (Nemeth et al., 2012). This pattern may be due to the dependence of grammatical abilities on the basal ganglia and procedural memory, which are abnormal in the disorder; in contrast, lexical memory depends importantly on declarative memory, which remains relatively spared in HD (Ullman et al., 1997; Ullman, 2004).

Publications: 

Nemeth, D., Dye, C. D., Sefcsik, T., Janacsek, K., Turi, Z., Londe, Z., Klivenyi, P., Kincses, T. Z., Nikoletta, S., Vecsei, L. & Ullman, M. T. (2012). Language deficits in pre-symptomatic Huntington's Disease: Evidence from Hungarian. Brain and Language. 121(3). 248-253.

Ullman, M. T. (2008). The role of memory systems in disorders of language. In B. Stemmer & H. A. Whitaker (Eds.), Handbook of the Neuroscience of Language. Oxford, UK: Elsevier Ltd. pp. 189-198.

Ullman, M. T. (2004). Contributions of neural memory circuits to language: The declarative/procedural model. Cognition, 92(1-2), 231-270.

Ullman, M. T., Corkin, S., Coppola, M., Hickok, M., Growdon, J. H., Koroshetz, W. J., and Pinker, S. (1997). A neural dissociation within language: Evidence that the mental dictionary is part of declarative memory, and that grammatical rules are processed by the procedural system. Journal of Cognitive Neuroscience, 9(2), 266-276.

Other Adult-Onset Disorders 

We are also interested in language and memory in other adult-onset disorders, including amnesia (in the well-known patient H.M.) and patients with cerebellar abnormalities or lesions.

Publications:

Kensinger, E. A., Ullman, M. T., and Corkin, S. (2001). Bilateral medial temporal lobe damage does not affect lexical or grammatical processing: Evidence from the amnesic patient H. M. Hippocampus, 11(4), 347-360.