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Northwestern School of Communication

Cynthia K. Thompson

Professor Emerita
Cynthia K. Thompson

Cynthia K. Thompson’s research focuses on normal and disordered language and how language recovers in persons with brain damage. This work makes use of mutually supportive language representation (linguistic) and processing accounts of normal language to predict breakdown and recovery patterns. These patterns provide blueprints for clinical protocols and, in turn, address the utility of this translational approach for studying language disorders. The processing mechanisms that support recovery also are studied by tracking eye movements in sentence processing and production, and the neural correlates of recovery are examined using functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI).


  • PhD Speech and Language Pathology/Linguistics, University of Kansas
  • MS Psychology, University of Oregon
  • MS Speech and Language Pathology, University of Oregon
  • BS Psychology, University of Oregon (honors)


  • Lukic, S., Barbieri, E., Wang, X., Caplan, D., Kiran, S., Rapp, B., Parrish, T., & Thompson, C. K. (2017). Right Hemisphere Grey Matter Volume and Language Recovery in Stroke Aphasia. Neural Plasticity, 2017, 1-14. DOI: 10.1155/2017/5601509
  • Mack, J. E. & Thompson, C. K. (2017). Recovery of online sentence processing in aphasia: Eye movement changes resulting from Treatment of Underlying Forms. Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research, 1-17. DOI: 10.1044/2016_JSLHR-L-16-0108.
  • Mack, J.E., Nerantzini, M., & Thompson, C.K. (2017). Recovery of Sentence Production Processes Following Language Treatment in Aphasia: Evidence from Eyetracking. Frontiers in Human Neuroscience, 2017(11). DOI: 10.3389/fnhum.2017.00101.
  • Schuchard, J., & Thompson, C. K. (2017). Sequential learning in individuals with agrammatic aphasia: evidence from artificial grammar learning. Journal of Cognitive Psychology, 1-14. DOI: 10.1080/20445911.2017.1293065.
  • Thompson, C.K., Walenski, M., Chen, Y.F., Caplan, D., Kiran, S., Rapp, B., Grunewald, K., Nunez, M., Zinbarg, R.E., & Parrish, T.B. (2017). Intrahemispheric perfusion in chronic stroke-induced aphasia. Neural Plasticity, 2017, 1-15. DOI:10.1155/2017/2361691.
  • Thompson, C. K. & Mack, J. E. (in press). Neurocognitive mechanisms of agrammatism. In: De Zubicaray, G. and Schiller, N. O. (Eds.), Oxford Handbook of Neurolinguistics. New York: Oxford University Press.
  • Rogalski, E., Sridhar, J., Rader, B., Martersteck, A., Chen, K., Cobia, D., Thompson, C.K., Weintraub, S., Bigio, E.H., & Mesulam, M. M. (2016). Aphasic variant of Alzheimer disease: Clinical, anatomic, and genetic features. Neurology, 87(13), 1337-1343. PMC5047036. DOI: 10.1212/WNL.0000000000003165.
  • Mack, J.E., Zu-Sern Wei, A., Gutierrez, S., & Thompson, C.K. (2016). Tracking sentence comprehension: Test-retest reliability in people with aphasia and unimpaired adults. Journal of Neurolinguistics, 40, 98-111. PMC5113948. DOI: 10.1016/j.jneuroling.2016.06.001.
  • Schuchard, J., Nerantzini, M., & Thompson, C.K. (2016). Implicit learning and implicit treatment outcomes in individuals with aphasia. Aphasiology, 1-24. NIHMS832412. DOI: 10.1080/02687038.2016.1147526.
  • Cho-Reyes, S., Mack, J.E., & Thompson, C.K. (2016). Grammatical encoding and learning in agrammatic aphasia: Evidence from structural priming. Journal of Memory and Language, 91, 202-218. DOI:10.1016/j.jml.2016.02.004
  • Wang, H., & Thompson, C. K. (2015). Assessing syntactic deficits in Chinese Broca’s aphasia using the Northwestern Assessment of Verbs and Sentences-Chinese (NAVS-C). Aphasiology, 30(7), 815-840. PMC4955954. DOI:10.1080/02687038.2015.1111995.
  • Mack, J.E., Chandler, S.D., Meltzer-Asscher, A., Rogalski, E., Weintraub, S., Mesulam, M.M., & Thompson, C.K. (2015). What do pauses in narrative production reveal about the nature of word retrieval deficits in PPA? Neuropsychologia, 77, 211-222. PMC4609629. DOI:10.1016/j.neuropsychologia.2015.08.019.
  • Lee, J., Yoshida, M., & Thompson, C.K. (2015). Grammatical planning units during real-time sentence production in agrammatic aphasia and healthy speakers. Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research, 58(4), 1182-1194. PMC4765196. DOI:10.1044/2015_JSLHR-L-14-0250.
  • Lee, J., & Thompson, C.K. (2015). Phonological facilitation effects on naming latencies and viewing times during noun and verb naming in agrammatic and anomic aphasia. Aphasiology, 29(10), 1164-1188. PMC4583128. DOI:10.1080/02687038.2015.1035225.
  • Thompson, C.K. (2015). Establishing the effects of treatment for aphasia using single-subject-controlled experimental designs. Aphasiology, 29(5), 588-597. PMC1847620. DOI:10.1080/02687038.2014.987043.
  • Meltzer-Asscher, A., Mack, J. E., Barbieri, E., & Thompson, C. K. (2015). How the brain processes different dimensions of argument structure complexity: Evidence from fMRI. Brain and Language, 142, 65-75. PMC4336802. DOI:10.1016/j.bandl.2014.12.005. Reference: YBRLN4274.
  • Riley, E., & Thompson, C.K. (2015). Training pseudoword reading in acquired dyslexia: a phonological complexity approach. Aphasiology, 29:2, 129-150. PMC4467909. DOI:10.1080/02687038.2014.955389.
  • Mesulam, M.M., Thompson, C.K., Weintraub, S., & Rogalski, E. (2015). The Wernicke conundrum and the anatomy of language comprehension in primary progressive aphasia. Brain, 138(Pt 8), 2423-2437. PMC4805066. DOI: 10.1093/brain/awv154.
  • Thompson, C. K., Faroqi-Shah, Y., & Lee, J. (2015). Models of sentence production. In: A. Hillis (Ed.). The handbook of adult language disorders: Integrating cognitive neuropsychology, neurology, and rehabilitation. Second Edition (pp. 328-354). New York: Psychology Press.
  • Fraser, K.C., Hirst, G., Meltzer, J.A., Mack, J.E., Thompson, C.K. (2014). Using statistical analysis parsing to detect agrammatic aphasia. Proceedings of the 2014 Workshop on Biomedical Natural Language Processing (BioNLP), p. 134-142. Stroudsburg, PA: Association for Computatonal Linguistics (ACL).
  • Mesulam, M.M., Rogalski, E.J., Wieneke, C., Hurley, R. S., Geula, C., Bigio, E.H., Thompson, C.K., & Weintraub, S. (2014). Primary progressive aphasia and the evolving neurology of the language network. Nature Reviews Neurology, 10(Oct. 2014), 554-569. PMC4201050. DOI:10.1038/nrneurol.2014.159.
  • Thompson, C.K., & Mack, J.E. (2014). Grammatical impairments in PPA. Aphasiology, 28(8-9), 1018-1037. PMC4306464. DOI:
  • Meltzer-Asscher, A., & Thompson, C.K. (2014). The forgotten grammatical category: Adjective use in agrammatic aphasia. Journal of Neurolinguistics, 30C, 48-68. PMC4034142. DOI:
  • Schuchard, J., & Thompson, C.K. (2014). Implicit and explicit learning in individuals with agrammatic aphasia. Journal of Psycholinguistic Research, 43(3), 209-224. PMC3766481. DOI:10.1007/s10936-013-9248-4.
  • Thompson, C.K. & Meltzer-Asscher, A. (2014). Neurocognitive mechanisms of verb argument structure processing. In Asaf Bachrach, Isabelle Roy and Linaea Stockall (Eds.) Structuring the Argument: Multidisciplinary research on verb argument structure (pp. 141-168). John Benjamins.
  • Thompson, C.K., & Kielar, A. (2014). Neural bases of sentence processing: evidence from neurolinguistic and neuroimaging studies. In M. Goldrick, V. Ferreira, & M. Miozzo (Eds.) The Oxford Handbook of Language Production (pp. 47-69). New York: Oxford University Press.
  • 2006 – 2013 Publications

Awards and Honors

  • 2017: Karl Rosengren Faculty Mentoring Award, Northwestern University
  • 2014: Distinguished Health Professions Alumna, University of Kansas Medical Center
  • 2013: Honors of the Association, American Speech-Language-Hearing Association
  • 2011: Endowed Investiture of the Jean and Ralph Sundin Professorship, Northwestern University
  • 2008: Editor's award, American Journal of Speech and Language Pathology, American Speech Language-Hearing Association
  • 2007: Martin E. and Gertrude G. Walder Award for Research Excellence, Northwestern University
  • 2004: Fellow, Buehler Center on Aging
  • 2001: Fellow, Cognitive Neurology and Alzheimer's Disease Center, Northwestern University
  • 1999: Fellow, American Speech Language and Hearing Association