Friday, June 20, 2014

In honor of Rita Sloan Berndt

Rita Sloan Berndt passed away on Tuesday. Rita was an internationally recognized scholar and researcher, dedicated to the understanding of aphasia and its devastating effects on language communication. She was a true force in the field with a research program that was broad in scope. While she focused particularly on deficits in sentence comprehension and production in aphasia, she also examined impairments in reading, lexico-semantics, and category-specific naming. Although Rita published some of the first papers hypothesizing a general syntactic deficit in agrammatic Broca’s aphasia, she was also among the first to challenge this view through careful single case studies, buttressed by group studies, meta-analyses, and the implementation of treatment protocols focused on the processing of verbs and their arguments. Rita’s research was supported continuously for 22 years by the National Institutes of Health, testimony to its importance and high quality. She published extensively from the 1970’s until 2009 in top journals in the field, and edited or co-edited 4 books. She had collaborators world-wide and enriched many a meeting of the Academy of Aphasia with her thoughtful and intellectually rich presentations and with her provocative (in the best sense) comments and questions. Her working style was and is something to emulate: low-key, focused, curious, open to questions, and collegial. Rita was a great researcher, collaborator, colleague, and friend. She will be sorely missed.
Sheila E. Blumstein 

Brown University 

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