Pelagie M Beeson
Department Head, Speech/Language and Hearing
Professor, BIO5 Institute
Professor, Cognitive Science - GIDP
Professor, Speech/Language and Hearing
Primary Department
Department Affiliations
(520) 621-9879
Research Interest
My research is directed toward understanding the neural substrates of spoken and written language, as well as the nature and treatment of acquired impairments of language in adults. This includes the development and evaluation of behavioral treatment approaches for aphasia, alexia, and agraphia. In our lab, we work with adults with acquired language impairment due to brain damage associated with stroke, head injury, and progressive disease. Neurologically healthy adults participate as control subjects.


Henry, M. L., Beeson, P. M., Alexander, G. E., & Rapcsak, S. Z. (2012). Written language impairments in primary progressive aphasia: A reflection of damage to central semantic and phonological processes. Journal of Cognitive Neuroscience, 24, 261-75.
BIO5 Collaborators
Gene E Alexander, Pelagie M Beeson
Kim, E., Bayles, K., & Beeson, P. (2008). Instruction processing in young and older adults: Contributions of memory span. Aphasiology, 22(7-8), 753-762.
Murray, L. L., Holland, A. L., & Beeson, P. M. (1997). Auditory processing in individuals with mild aphasia: A study of resource allocation. Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research, 40(4), 792-808.

PMID: 9263944;Abstract:

This study examined the effects of lesion location (frontal vs. posterior) and nature of distraction (nonverbal vs. verbal secondary, competing task) on mildly aphasic individuals' performances of listening tasks that required semantic judgments and lexical decisions under isolation focused attention and divided attention conditions. Despite comparable accuracy among all groups during isolation conditions the aphasic groups responded less accurately and more slowly than the normal control group during focused and divided attention conditions. Generally, the two aphasic groups performed similarly, quantitatively and qualitatively. Demographic characteristics such as time post stroke did not correlate with performance decrements. Independent of group, all individuals showed greater disruption of auditory processing skills when the secondary task was verbal rather than nonverbal. Within a limited-capacity model of attention, the results suggest that aphasic individuals display impairments of attention and resource allocation and that these impairments negatively interact with their auditory processing abilities.

Rapp, B., & Beeson, P. M. (2003). Introduction: Dysgraphia: Cognitive processes, remediation, and neural substrates. Aphasiology, 17(6-7), 531-534.
Henry, M. L., Beeson, P. M., & Rapcsak, S. Z. (2008). Treatment for anomia in semantic dementia. Seminars in Speech and Language, 29(1), 60-70.

PMID: 18348092;PMCID: PMC2699352;Abstract:

Anomia is a striking and consistent clinical feature of semantic dementia (SD), a progressive aphasia syndrome associated with focal cortical atrophy of the anterior temporal lobes. Word retrieval deficits in patients with SD have been attributed to the loss of conceptual knowledge, resulting in an impairment referred to as semantic anomia. Whereas an abundance of research has been dedicated to treatment for anomia in individuals with focal brain damage due to stroke, considerably less work has been done regarding treatment for patients with progressive language decline. The purpose of this article is to review the available literature concerning the nature and treatment of anomia in individuals with SD. Several studies have shown that new lexical learning remains possible in these patients. However, newly learned information is likely to be constrained by the learning context, and increased reliance on perceptual and autobiographical contextual information may be necessary to provide critical support for new vocabulary acquisition. There is also evidence suggesting that treatment may slow the progression of anomia over time, even affording some protective benefit to lexical items that are not yet lost. However, treatment efforts are likely to be most beneficial at early stages of the disease, when residual semantic knowledge as well as relatively spared episodic memory may support new learning. Copyright © 2008 by Thieme Medical Publishers, Inc.