Pelagie M Beeson
Department Head, Speech/Language and Hearing
Professor, BIO5 Institute
Professor, Cognitive Science - GIDP
Professor, Speech/Language and Hearing
Primary Department
(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
Wilson, S. M., Bunton, K. E., Beeson, P. M., Rising, K. L., & Casilio, M. E. (2018). Auditory-perceptual rating of connected speech in aphasia. Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research.
Patterson, D. K., Van Petten, C., Beeson, P. M., Rapcsak, S. Z., & Plante, E. (2014). Bidirectional iterative parcellation of diffusion weighted imaging data: separating cortical regions connected by the arcuate fasciculus and extreme capsule. NeuroImage, 102 Pt 2, 704-16.

This paper introduces a Bidirectional Iterative Parcellation (BIP) procedure designed to identify the location and size of connected cortical regions (parcellations) at both ends of a white matter tract in diffusion weighted images. The procedure applies the FSL option "probabilistic tracking with classification targets" in a bidirectional and iterative manner. To assess the utility of BIP, we applied the procedure to the problem of parcellating a limited set of well-established gray matter seed regions associated with the dorsal (arcuate fasciculus/superior longitudinal fasciculus) and ventral (extreme capsule fiber system) white matter tracts in the language networks of 97 participants. These left hemisphere seed regions and the two white matter tracts, along with their right hemisphere homologues, provided an excellent test case for BIP because the resulting parcellations overlap and their connectivity via the arcuate fasciculi and extreme capsule fiber systems are well studied. The procedure yielded both confirmatory and novel findings. Specifically, BIP confirmed that each tract connects within the seed regions in unique, but expected ways. Novel findings included increasingly left-lateralized parcellations associated with the arcuate fasciculus/superior longitudinal fasciculus as a function of age and education. These results demonstrate that BIP is an easily implemented technique that successfully confirmed cortical connectivity patterns predicted in the literature, and has the potential to provide new insights regarding the architecture of the brain.

Beeson, P. M., Magloire, J. G., & Robey, R. R. (2005). Letter-by-letter reading: Natural recovery and response to treatment. Behavioural Neurology, 16(4), 191-202.

PMID: 16518009;Abstract:

The present investigation provides a longitudinal study of an individual (RB) with acquired alexia following left posterior cerebral artery stroke. At initial testing, RB exhibited acquired alexia characterized by letter-by-letter (LBL) reading, mild anomic aphasia, and acquired agraphia. Repeated measures of reading accuracy and rate were collected for single words and text over the course of one year, along with probes of naming and spelling abilities. Improvements associated with natural recovery (i.e., without treatment) were documented up to the fourth month post onset, when text reading appeared to be relatively stable. Multiple oral reading (MOR) treatment was initiated at 22 weeks post-stroke, and additional improvements in reading rate and accuracy for text were documented that were greater than those expected on the basis of spontaneous recovery alone. Over the course of one year, reading reaction times for single words improved, and the word-length effect that is the hallmark of LBL reading diminished. RB's response to treatment supports the therapeutic value of MOR treatment to in LBL readers. His residual impairment of reading and spelling one-year post stroke raised the question as to whether further progress was impeded by degraded orthographic knowledge. © 2005 - IOS Press and the authors. All rights reserved.

Antonucci, S. M., Beeson, P. M., & Rapcsak, S. Z. (2004). Anomia in patients with left inferior temporal lobe lesions. Aphasiology, 18(5-7), 543-554.


Background: Damage to left inferior temporal cortex has been associated with naming deficits resulting either from impaired access to phonological word forms (pure anomia) or from degraded semantic knowledge (semantic anomia). Neuropsychological evidence indicates that pure anomia may follow damage to posterior inferior temporal cortex (BA 37), whereas semantic anomia is associated with damage to more anterior temporal lobe regions (BA 20, 21, 38). By contrast, some investigators have suggested that it is the overall severity of anomia, rather than the nature of the underlying cognitive impairment, that is affected by the anterior extent of the lesion. Aims: To examine the naming performance of patients with left inferior temporal lobe damage and determine whether anterior extension of the lesion influences the nature and/or the severity of the naming impairment. Methods & Procedures: Eight participants with focal damage to left inferior temporal cortex completed a battery of language measures that included confrontation naming, semantic processing, and single-word reading and spelling. Degree and type of anomia was examined relative to anterior lesion extension using both visual inspection and statistical analyses. Outcomes & Results: Naming performance ranged from unimpaired to severely defective, with only two participants demonstrating an additional mild impairment of semantic knowledge. The underlying mechanism of anomia seemed to be degraded access to phonological word forms in all participants, regardless of lesion configuration. The severity of the naming impairment was positively correlated with anterior extension of the lesion towards the temporal pole, although additional analyses suggested that these findings were significantly influenced by participant age. Naming was not correlated with performance on the nonverbal semantic task or any other demographic variable. Conclusions: The behavioural and neuroanatomical findings provide modest support for the hypothesis that a relationship exists between anterior lesion extension and the severity of concomitant anomia in patients with left inferior temporal lobe damage. The data suggest that such lesions may disconnect relatively preserved semantic knowledge from regions critical for access to phonological word forms. However, additional research is needed to discern to what extent age and individual variability temper these effects. © 2004 Psychology Press Ltd.