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Research and Education

Christine Chiarello

Christine Chiarello
Professor of Cognitive Psychology, University of California at Riverside
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.  We are exploring how regional differences in cortical thickness, surface area, and gyrification vary across hemispheres and individuals. Current interests include structural correlates of bilingual language experience and behavioral correlates of variations in interhemispheric interaction.

Selected Publications

McDowell, A., Felton, A., Vazquez, D., & Chiarello, C. (2016, In press). Neurostructural correlates of consistent and weak handedness. Laterality, doi:   10.1080/1357650X.2015.1096939.

Chiarello, C., Vazquez, D., Felton, A., & McDowell, A.  (2016, In press). Structural asymmetry of the human cerebral cortex: Regional and between-subject variability of surface area, cortical thickness, and local gyrification. Neuropsychologia, doi:10.1016/j.neuropsychologia.2016.01.012.

Kroll, J.F., & Chiarello, C.  (2015). Language experience and the brain: variability, neuroplasticity, and bilingualism. Language, Cognition, and Neuroscience.

Chiarello, C., Vazquez, D., Felton, A., & Leonard, C.M.  (2013). Structural asymmetry of the insula: Behavioral correlates and individual differences. Brain and Language, 126, 109-122.

Chiarello, C., Welcome, S.E., & Leonard, C.M. (2012). Individual differences in reading skill and language lateralization: A cluster analysis. Laterality, 17, 225-251.

Chiarello, C., Welcome, S.E., & Leonard, C.M.  (2012). Individual differences in brain organization for language. In M. Faust (Editor), Handbook of the Neuropsychology of Language. Blackwell-Wiley.

Welcome, S.E., Chiarello, C., Thompson, P.M., & Sowell, E.R.  (2011). Reading skill is related to individual differences in brain structure in college students. Human Brain Mapping, 32, 1194-1205.

Welcome, S.E., Leonard, C.M., and Chiarello, C.  (2010). Alternate reading strategies and variable asymmetry of the planum temporale in adult resilient readers. Brain and Language, 113, 73-83.

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.