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Today's Neuroscience, Tomorrow's History: Professor Elizabeth Warrington - Audio

By Professor Elizabeth Warrington

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Supported by a grant from the Wellcome Trust to Dr Tilli Tansey and Professor Leslie Iversen, the Wellcome Trust Centre for the History of Medicine at UCL presents a series of podcasts on the history of neuroscience featuring eminent people in the field: Professor Elizabeth Warrington completed her PhD on visual processing at the Institute of Neurology, London, and was formerly head of the Department of Neuropsychology at The National Hospital for Neurology and Neurosurgery, Queen Square. Her research has focused on understanding, in the broadest terms, brain and behaviour relationships, and, in particular, the neural basis of our cognitive abilities -- how our neural networks enable us to see, perceive, remember and talk about things. Understanding how these networks are organised helps in diagnosing and assessing many different kinds of brain injury. Her work has also been influential in testing theories about cognitive psychology. Professor Warrington has played a key role in improving the accuracy of tests to diagnose and help chart the progress of degenerative brain conditions that affect the way we perceive, talk or think about things. Her work in defining differences in how we remember information based on knowledge (semantic memory) as opposed to events (episodic memory) led to the identification of a new neurological condition, semantic dementia, which she first described in 1975. Semantic dementia is a progressive neurodegenerative disorder, the most common presenting symptom being loss of word meaning. Diagnosing brain damage has been an important part of Professor Warrington’s work. Neuropsychological examinations use a patient’s cognitive function to identify or rule out conditions such as strokes and conditions that lead to dementia, such as Alzheimers. The tests developed by her can also be used to track recovery, as well as to plan rehabilitation programmes. Professor Warrington is an emeritus professor of clinical neuropsychology at The National Hospital and a member of the Dementia Research Group.