Corinne M. Allen

PhD Candidate


Department of Psychology, Rice University

Office: Sewall Hall, 121

Phone: (713) 348-2215

6100 Main St., MS-25

Psychology Department

Rice University

Houston, TX 77005

A Brief Background: Research in the Brain & Language Lab

   Many patients with aphasia have reduced short-term memory capacities, in addition to language impairments. From different patterns of memory impairment, dissociable types of short-term memory have been proposed. Patients described as having a deficit in phonological short-term memory are unable to retain phonological information, whereas patients described as having a deficit in semantic short-term memory are unable to retain lexical-semantic information. Research in Dr. Randi Martin’s Brain and Language Lab investigates the consequences these patterns of memory impairments have on language comprehension, language production, and other cognitive processes.

Research Interests

   Executive control has long been recognized as important for organizing behavior. However, the importance of executive control for other cognitive processes is less well understood. In general, I am interested in the role for cognitive control in memory and language, as well as the reverse - the role for memory and language in tasks assessing cognitive control abilities. To assess these relationships, my research focuses on both healthy and neuropsychological populations. 

   More specifically, within the domain of cognitive control, my research has primarily focused on the components of task switching (shifting attention between different tasks) and inhibition (ignoring dominant or interfering information). For example, some of my recent research has investigated how different components of executive control (e.g., task switching, inhibition) interact the short-term retention of phonological and semantic information, as well as semantic processing.

   On the relationship between executive control and short-term memory, I am also interested in the role that short-term memory plays in at least some aspects of executive control. For example, do aphasic patients with specific patterns of short-term memory deficits show executive control impairments? My Masters research suggested the answer to this question is yes - executive control tasks may critically rely on lower-level cognitive processes such as language and memory. Such a dependence has implications not only for assessing executive function abilities in patient populations, but also ensuring that executive deficits cannot be explained by a separate underlying deficit.

   Additionally, I am interested in the extent to which the components of executive control are separable. Are these executive control components truly separate processes, or do they critically rely on each other? With regards to this, my dissertation work investigates the involvement of inhibition in task switching, using young adults, older adults, and patients with aphasia.

Other Interests

   My interest in neuropsychological populations extends beyond persons with aphasia. I am also interested in extending my executive control and short-term memory research to other neuropsychological populations, such as TBI and Alzheimer’s patients.

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