Faculty » Christine Chiarello

My research investigates the organization of language function in the brain. One long-standing research interest is to understand how the bilateral design of the human cerebral cortex affects the way in which people process language and perform other cognitive functions. My lab has explored the contributions of the right cerebral hemisphere to language processing, and documented that this "nonverbal" hemisphere in fact plays an important role in the comprehension of linguistic meaning. This research has indicated that the right hemisphere has a broader, less focused form of meaning activation that can provide a platform for a variety of linguistic processes that complement those of the left hemisphere.

More recently my research has focused on individual differences in the neural substrates for reading and language. In particular, we are investigating linkages between individual differences in cortical anatomy and variations in behavioral-linguistic profiles. The Biological Substrates for Language Project is currently in progress. This is a large-scale, NIH-funded study of 200 participants who received extensive behavioral testing and MRI scans that permitted measurement of numerous neuroanatomical features. The resulting individual differences database is unique in that it combines detailed neuroanatomical measurements with thorough behavioral data from the same individuals. Initial findings indicate that individual differences in brain and behavior cannot be accounted for by sex differences, but that an overlapping subgroup approach (the kaleidoscope framework) can identify multiple dimensions of variation in brain anatomy and behavior.

Selected Publications

Leonard, C.M., Towler, S.D., Welcome, S., & Chiarello, C.  (2009). Paracingulate asymmetry in anterior and midcingulate cortex: sex differences and the effect of measurement technique. Brain Structure and Function. [Epub ahead of print: DOI 10.1007/s00429-009-0210-z]

Welcome, S.E., Chiarello, C., Towler, S., Halderman, L.K., Otto, R., & Leonard, C.M.  (2009). Behavioral correlates of corpus callosum size: Anatomical/behavioral relationships vary across sex/handedness groups. Neuropsychologia, 47, 2427-2435.

Chiarello, C., Welcome, S.E., Halderman, L.K., & Leonard, C.M.  (2009). Does degree of asymmetry relate to performance? An investigation of word recognition and reading in consistent and mixed handers. Brain and Cognition, 69, 521-530.

Chiarello, C., Welcome, S.E., Halderman, L.K., Towler, S., Julagay, J., Otto, R., Leonard, C.M. (2009). A large-scale investigation of lateralization in cortical anatomy and word reading: Are there sex differences? Neuropsychology, 23, 210-222.

Leonard, C.M., Towler, S., Welcome, S., Halderman, L.K., Otto, R., Eckert, M.A., & Chiarello, C. (2008). Size matters: Cerebral volume influences sex differences in neuroanatomy. Cerebral Cortex, 18, 2352-2357.

Kacinik, N.A., & Chiarello, C. (2007). Understanding metaphors: Is the right hemisphere uniquely involved? Brain and Language, 100, 188-207.

Chiarello, C., Lombardino, L.J., Kacinik, N.A., Otto, R., & Leonard, C.M. (2006). Neuroanatomical and behavioral asymmetry in an adult compensated dyslexic. Brain and Language, 98, 169-181.

Chiarello, C., Kacinik, N.A., Shears, C., Arambel, S., Halderman, L.K., & Robinson, C.S. (2006). Exploring cerebral asymmetries for the verb generation task. Neuropsychology . 20 , 88-104.

Chiarello, C., Kacinik, N., Manowitz, B., Otto, R., & Leonard, C. (2004). Cerebral asymmetries for language: Evidence for structural-behavioral correlations. Neuropsychology, 18, 219-231.