This week, on Tuesday, in BBC Radio Dorothy Bishop talked about how families react when they discover there’s a genetic basis to their speech problems, and why this language impairment isn’t as well known as other conditions. Dorothy discusses her experiences of speaking out against folk psychology and bad science journalism.
Dorothy Bishop is a British psychologist specialising in developmental disorders. She is Professor of Developmental Neuropsychology and Wellcome Trust Principal Research Fellow in the Department of Experimental Psychology at the University of Oxford, where she has been since 1998. Dorothy is Principal Investigator for the Oxford Study of Children’s Communication Impairments (OSCCI).
Her research is concerned with trying to understand the nature and causes of language impairments in children. In some cases, language difficulties have an obvious cause, such as hearing loss or a syndrome such as Down syndrome. In other cases, children have particular difficulty learning to talk or understand language for no obvious reason. Now she is a world-leading expert in childhood language disorders. Her recent work has been particularly focused on these children with ‘specific language impairment’ or SLI, who are quite common but tend to be neglected by researchers. Using twin studies, Dorothy have shown that there is a strong genetic component to these disorders, and she have worked with molecular geneticists to try and find out more about particular genes that are implicated.
Her work also extends into the study of related conditions, such as autistic spectrum disorder and developmental dyslexia, which share many overlaps with SLI. She is particularly interested in whether genetic variants that cause a risk for language impairment are also implicated in these other conditions.
Here is the link to the interview with Dorothy Bishop in BBC radio: http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b060zq8m
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