Beth Jefferies
Professor

Profile

Biography

Beth Jefferies completed an MA in Experimental Psychology at the University of Oxford and a PhD in Neuropsychology at the University of Bristol. She then moved to the University of Manchester in 2003, where she worked as an RCUK Research Fellow investigating disorders of semantic cognition and language following stroke and dementia. During these years, she started to use complementary neuroscientific methods (transcranial magnetic stimulation; functional neuroimaging) to investigate hypotheses about the neural basis of semantic cognition and language that emerged from the ongoing patient studies. In 2007, she moved to the Department of Psychology at the University of York.

Beth currently holds grants from BBSRC, ERC and Stroke Association which employ multiple methods to explore the neural basis of semantic cognition and conceptual-linguistic interactions, including the evolution of cortical processing over time (using magnetoencephalography). A new project is also using electrical stimulation (tDCS) to explore the potential for improved rehabilitation of acquired disorders of semantics and language, building on Beth’s previous work that examined the underlying cause of semantic deficits in different patient groups.

Career

  • MA in Experimental Psychology, University of Oxford
  • PhD University of Bristol
  • RCUK Research Fellowship, University of Manchester

Departmental roles

Chair of York Neuroimaging Centre Science Committee

Research

Overview

View my profile on ResearcherID

Projects

Neural basis of semantic memory

We are investigating the nature of the semantic impairment in patients with different aetiologies and brain lesions to examine the neural networks underpinning (i) conceptual knowledge of words, sounds and pictures and (ii) control processes that regulate semantic processing.

We also use fMRI and transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) in healthy participants to provide convergent evidence and to extend our patient findings. Our results argue for a revised model of semantic cognition, in which brain regions beyond left inferior frontal cortex contribute to semantic control.

Semantic binding in phonological processing

Our studies of patients with semantic dementia and healthy volunteers suggest that word meaning contributes to phonological coherence. When semantic binding is weak, phonological errors such as spoonerisms (e.g., “dart, hog” produced as “heart, dog”) become more frequent in verbal short-term memory and other tasks like paced reading that require rapid serial production. These findings help to constrain models of the interaction between phonology and semantics.

Research group(s)

My lab includes:

  • Nicola Savill (phonological binding and semantics)
  • Giovanna Mollo (MEG and semantic processing)
  • Hannah Thompson (neuropsychology and the semantic control network)
  • Glyn Hallam (tDCS and aphasia rehabilitation)
  • James Davey (fMRI of action representation and control)
  • Catta Teige (MEG and semantic control)
  • Upasana Nathaniel (neuropsychology)
  • Charlotte Murphy (fMRI of semantic cognition)

Grants

Active

  • Stroke Association: Direct current stimulation and rehabilitation of comprehension deficits in stroke aphasia. £210k to E. Jefferies (PI) and M.A. Lambon Ralph. January 2013-December 2015.
  • BBSRC project grant: When and where do you know what your know? fMRI-guided MEG and TMS studies of semantic cognition. £408k to E. Jefferies (PI), P. Cornelissen and A. Ellis. March 2012 – February 2015.
  • European Research Council Starting grant: Bedding wells or wedding bells? Lexical and semantic influences on phoneme binding. EUR 691k to E. Jefferies and A. Ellis. January 2012-July 2016.

 

Completed

  • Research into Ageing: Deficits of semantic cognition in stroke aphasia: Underlying causes and ameliorating factors. £69k: October 2009-2012.
  • MRC programme grant: Pathfound: Revealing the neural basis of semantic memory and its breakdown in semantic dementia and stroke aphasia. £807k to M. A. Lambon Ralph, E. Jefferies (co-I), K. Patterson, T. T. Rogers & G. Parker, May 2006 – April 2011
  • Wellcome project grant: The neural basis of semantic memory: A transcranial magnetic stimulation investigation. £141k to E. Jefferies, M.A. Lambon Ralph,S. Hamdy, J. Rothwell, March 2006 – March 2010
  • RCUK research fellowship: Semantic cognition in the brain. £200k to E. Jefferies, July 2005 – July 2010 (left fellowship for faculty position September 2007)
  • ESRC project grant: Lexical and semantic binding of phonology in verbal short-term memory. £46k to E. Jefferies, C. Frankish and M.A. Lambon Ralph, May 2005 – April 2007

Collaborators

 

Available PhD research projects

I am keen to hear from potential PhD students interested in the neural basis of semantic memory, language and verbal working memory, and who wish to undertake neuropsychological, neuroimaging and/or TMS studies.

Supervision

  • Charlotte Murphy (2013-current)
  • Upasana Nathaniel (2013-current)
  • Catta Teige (2011-2014)
  • James Davey (2011-2014)

 

 Previous PhD students

  • Krist Noonan (2006-2009) Now a research fellow at the Research Institute for the Care of Older People, Bath
  • Richard Binney (2006-2009) Now a postdoc at the University of Manchester
  • Maya Visser (2006-2009) Now a postdoc in Barcelona
  • Faye Corbett (2005-2009) Now undertaking a professional doctorate in Clinical Psychology
  • Paul Hoffman (2005-2008) Now a postdoc at the University of Manchester
  • Hannah Thompson (2009-2012) Now a postdoc at the University of York
  • Katya Krieger-Redwood (2009-2012)
  • Azizah Almaghyuli (2009-2013)

Publications

Selected publications

Jefferies, E., & Lambon Ralph, M. A. (2006). Semantic impairment in stroke aphasia vs. semantic dementia: A case-series comparison. Brain, 129, 2132–2147.

Pobric, G., Jefferies, E., Lambon Ralph, M. A. (2007) Anterior temporal lobes mediate semantic representation: Mimicking semantic dementia by using rTMS in normal participants. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences USA, 104: 20137-20141.

Corbett, F., Jefferies, E., Eshan, S., Lambon Ralph, M. A. (2009) Different impairments of semantic cognition in semantic dementia and semantic aphasia: Evidence from the non-verbal domain. Brain, 132, 2593-2608.

Noonan, K., Jefferies, E., Corbett, F., Hopper, S. & Lambon Ralph, M. A. (2010) Elucidating the nature of deregulated semantic cognition in semantic aphasia: Evidence for the roles of prefrontal and temporoparietal cortices. Journal of Cognitive Neuroscience, 22, 1597-1613.

Pobric, G., Jefferies, E., & Lambon Ralph, M.A. (2010) Induction of category-specific vs. general semantic impairments in normal participants using rTMS. Current Biology, 20, 964–968.

Whitney, C., Jefferies, E., Kircher, T. (2011) Heterogeneity of the left temporal lobe in semantic representation and control: Priming multiple vs. single meanings of ambiguous words. Cerebral Cortex, 21, 831-844.

Whitney, C., Kirk, M., O'Sullivan, J., Lambon Ralph, M. A., & Jefferies, E. (2012). Executive semantic processing is underpinned by a large-scale neural network: Revealing the contribution of left prefrontal, posterior temporal, and parietal cortex to controlled retrieval and selection using TMS. Journal of Cognitive Neuroscience, 24, 133-147.

Visser, M., Jefferies, E., Embleton, K. V., & Lambon Ralph, M. A. (2012). Both the middle temporal gyrus and the ventral anterior temporal area are crucial for multimodal semantic processing: Distortion-corrected fMRI evidence for a double gradient of information convergence in the temporal lobes. Journal of Cognitive Neuroscience, 24, 1766-1778.

Full publications list

Noonan, K. A., Jefferies, E., Garrard, P., Eshan, S., Lambon Ralph, M. A. (2013). Demonstrating the qualitative differences between semantic aphasia and semantic dementia: A novel exploration of nonverbal semantic processing. Behavioural Neurology, 26, 7-20.

Almaghyuli, A., Lambon Ralph, M.A., Jefferies, E. (2012) Deficits of semantic control produce reverse frequency effects: Evidence from neuropsychology and dual task methodology. Neuropsychologia, 50, 1968-79.

Visser, M., Jefferies, E., Embleton, K. V., Lambon Ralph, M. A. (2012) Both the middle temporal gyrus and the ventral anterior temporal area are crucial for multimodal semantic processing: Distortion-corrected fMRI evidence for a double gradient of information convergence in the temporal lobes. Journal of Cognitive Neuroscience, 24, 1766-78.

Jefferies, E., Grogan, Mapelli, C., Isella, V. (2012) Paced reading in semantic dementia: Word knowledge contributes to phoneme binding in rapid speech production. Neuropsychologia, 50, 723-732. [10.1016/j.neuropsychologia.2012.01.006].

Hoffman, P., Jefferies, E., Ehsan, S., Jones, R. W., Lambon Ralph, M. A. (2012) How does linguistic knowledge contribute to verbal short-term memory? Contrasting effects of impaired semantic knowledge and executive control. Aphasiology special issue, 26, 383-403 [DOI:10.1080/02687038.2011.581798].

Gardner, H.E., Lambon Ralph, M.A., Dodds, N., Jones, T., Ehsan, S., Jefferies, E. (2012) The differential contributions of prefrontal and temporoparietal cortices to multimodal semantic control: Exploring refractory effects in semantic aphasia. Journal of Cognitive Neuroscience, 24, 778-793.

Corbett, F., Jefferies, E., Burns, A., Lambon Ralph, M. A. (2012) Unpicking the semantic impairment in Alzheimer's Disease: Qualitative changes in disease severity. Behavioural Neurology, 25 (special issue on comparisons of degenerative and non-degenerative impairment), 23-34. [DOI:10.3233/BEN-2012-0346].

Whitney, C., Kirk, K., O'Sullivan, J., Lambon Ralph, M. A., Jefferies, E. (2012) Executive-semantic processing is underpinned by a large-scale neural network: Revealing the contribution of left prefrontal, posterior temporal and parietal cortex to controlled retrieval and selection using TMS. Journal of Cognitive Neuroscience, 24, 133-147. [doi:10.1162/jocn_a_00123].

Jefferies, E., Rogers, T.T., Lambon Ralph, M.A. (2011) Premorbid expertise produces category-specific impairment in a domain-general semantic disorder. Neuropsychologia, 49, 3213-23.

Whitney, C., Kirk, K., O'Sullivan, J., Lambon Ralph, M. A., Jefferies, E. (2011) The neural organization of semantic control: TMS evidence for a distributed network in left inferior frontal and posterior middle temporal gyrus. Cerebral Cortex, 21(5), 1066-75.

Monk, A.F., Jackson, D., Neilsen, D., Jefferies, E., Olivier, P. (2011) N-backer: An auditory n-back task with automatic scoring of spoken responses. Behavior Research Methods, 43, 888-896.

Whitney, C., Jefferies, E., Kircher, T. (2011) Heterogeneity of the left temporal lobe in semantic representation and control: Priming multiple vs. single meanings of ambiguous words. Cerebral Cortex, 21, 831-844.

Jefferies, E., Bott, S., Ehsan, S., & Lambon Ralph, M. A. (2011) Phonological learning in semantic dementia. Neuropsychologia, 49, 1208-1218.

Hoffman, P., Jefferies, E., Lambon Ralph, M. A. (2011) Remembering 'zeal' but not 'thing': Reverse frequency effects as a consequence of deregulated semantic processing. Neuropsychologia, 49, 580-584.

Hoffman, P., Jefferies, E., Lambon Ralph, M.A. (2011) Explaining semantic short-term memory deficits: Evidence for the critical role of semantic control. Neuropsychologia, 49, 368-381.

Corbett F., Jefferies E., Lambon Ralph M.A. (2011) Deregulated semantic cognition follows prefrontal and temporoparietal damage: Evidence from the impact of task constraint on non-verbal object use. Journal of Cognitive Neuroscience, 23 (5), 1125-1135.

Jefferies, E., Frankish, C. & Noble, K. (2011) Strong and long: Effects of word length on phonological binding in verbal short-term memory. Quarterly Journal of Experimental Psychology. 64, 2, 241-260.

Hoffman, P., Jefferies, E., Lambon Ralph, M.A. (2010) Ventrolateral prefrontal cortex plays an executive regulation role in comprehension of abstract words: Convergent neuropsychological and rTMS evidence. Journal of Neuroscience, 30, 15450-15456.

Binney, R. J., Embleton, K. V., Jefferies, E., Parker, G., J., M, Lambon Ralph, M. A. (2010) The ventral and inferolateral aspects of the anterior temporal lobe are crucial in semantic memory: Evidence from a novel direct comparison of distortion-corrected fMRI, rTMS and semantic dementia. Cerebral Cortex, 20: 2728-2738. [doi:10.1093/cercor/bhq019]

Pobric, G., Jefferies, E., & Lambon Ralph, M.A. (2010) Induction of category-specific vs. general semantic impairments in normal participants using rTMS. Current Biology, 20, 964-968.

Visser, M., Embleton, K.V., Jefferies, E., Parker, G.J.M., Lambon Ralph, M.A. (2010) The anterior temporal lobes and semantic memory clarified: Novel evidence from distortion-corrected spin-echo EPI fMRI. Neuropsychologia, 48, 1689-1696. [DOI: 10.1016/j.neuropsychologia.2010.02.016]

Noonan, K., Jefferies, E., Corbett, F., Hopper, S. & Lambon Ralph, M. A. (2010) Elucidating the nature of deregulated semantic cognition in semantic aphasia: Evidence for the roles of prefrontal and temporoparietal cortices. Journal of Cognitive Neuroscience, 22, 1597-1613.

Pobric, G., Jefferies, E., Lambon Ralph, M. A. (2010) Amodal semantic representations depend on both anterior temporal lobes: Evidence from repetitive transcranial magnetic stimulation. Neuropsychologia, 48, 1336-1342.

Visser, M., Jefferies, E. A., Lambon Ralph, M. A. (2010) Semantic processing in the anterior temporal lobes: A meta-analysis of the functional neuroimaging literature. Journal of Cognitive Neuroscience, 22, 1083-1094.

Jefferies, E., Rogers, T.T., Hopper, S., Lambon Ralph, M. A. (2010) "Pre-semantic" cognition revisited: Critical differences between semantic aphasia and semantic dementia. Neuropsychologia, 48, 248-261.

Pobric, G., Lambon Ralph, M. A., Jefferies, E. (2009) The role of the anterior temporal lobes in the comprehension of concrete and abstract words: rTMS evidence. Cortex (Special Issue on TMS studies of cognition), 45, 1104-1110.

Corbett, F., Jefferies, E., Lambon Ralph, M. A. (2009) Exploring multimodal semantic control impairments in semantic aphasia: Evidence from naturalistic object use. Neuropsychologia, 47, 2721-2731.

Hoffman, P., Jefferies, E., Ehsan, S., Jones, R. W., Lambon Ralph, M. A. (2009) Semantic memory is key to binding phonology: Converging evidence from immediate serial recall in semantic dementia and healthy participants. Neuropsychologia, 47, 747-760.

Jefferies, E., Frankish, C. & Noble, K. (2009) Lexical coherence in short-term memory: Strategic reconstruction or "semantic glue"? Quarterly Journal of Experimental Psychology, 62: 1967-1982.

Corbett, F., Jefferies, E., Ehsan, S., Lambon Ralph, M. A. (2009) Different impairments of semantic cognition in semantic dementia and semantic aphasia: Evidence from the non-verbal domain. Brain, 132, 2593-2608.

Jefferies, E., Patterson, K., Jones, R.W., & Lambon Ralph, M.A. (2009) Comprehension of concrete and abstract words in semantic dementia. Neuropsychology, 23, 492-499.

Lambon Ralph, M. A., Pobric, G., Jefferies, E. (2009) Conceptual knowledge is underpinned by the temporal pole bilaterally: Convergent evidence from rTMS. Cerebral Cortex, 19: 832-838.

Hoffman, P., Jefferies, E., Ehsan, S., Hopper, S., Lambon Ralph, M. A. (2009) Semantic short-term memory deficits arise from impaired domain-general semantic control mechanisms. Journal of Experimental Psychology: Learning, Memory and Cognition, 35, 137-156.

Corbett F., Jefferies E., & Lambon Ralph M.A. (2008) The use of cueing to alleviate recurrent verbal perseverations: Evidence from transcortical sensory aphasia. Aphasiology, 22, 363-382.

Jefferies E., Patterson K., Lambon Ralph M.A. (2008) Deficits of knowledge vs. executive control in semantic cognition: Insights from cued naming. Neuropsychologia, 46, 649-658.

Jefferies E., Hoffman P., Jones R.W., & Lambon Ralph M.A. (2008) The impact of semantic impairment on verbal short-term memory in stroke aphasia and semantic dementia: A comparative study. Journal of Memory and Language, 58, 66-87.

Pobric, G., Jefferies, E., Lambon Ralph, M. A. (2007) Anterior temporal lobes mediate semantic representation: Mimicking semantic dementia by using rTMS in normal participants. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences USA, 104: 20137-20141.

Jefferies E., Sage K.S., Lambon Ralph M.A. (2007) Do deep dyslexia, dysphasia and dysgraphia share a common phonological impairment? Neuropsychologia 45: 1553-1570.

Jefferies E., Baker S.S., Doran M., Lambon Ralph M.A. (2007) Refractory effects in stroke aphasia: A consequence of poor semantic control. Neuropsychologia 45: 1065-1079.

Jefferies, E., & Lambon Ralph, M. A. (2006). Semantic impairment in stroke aphasia vs. semantic dementia: A case-series comparison. Brain, 129, 2132-2147. Over 150 citations

Jefferies, E., Frankish, C., & Lambon Ralph, M. A. (2006). Lexical and semantic influences on item and order memory in immediate serial recognition: Evidence from a novel task. Quarterly Journal of Experimental Psychology, 59, 949-964.

Jefferies, E., Crisp, J., & Lambon Ralph, M. A. (2006). The impact of phonological or semantic impairment on delayed auditory repetition: Evidence from stroke aphasia and semantic dementia. Aphasiology, 20(9/10/11), 963-992.

Patterson, K., Lambon Ralph, M. A., Jefferies, E., Woollams, A., Jones, R., Hodges, J., Rogers, T. T. (2006). 'Pre-semantic' cognition in semantic dementia: Six deficits in search of an explanation. Journal of Cognitive Neuroscience, 18, 169-183.

Jefferies, E., Patterson, K., Bateman, D., Jones, R., & Lambon Ralph, M. A. (2006). The natural history of "pure" late-stage semantic dementia. Neurocase, 12, 1-14.

Jefferies, E., Frankish, C. R. & Lambon Ralph, M.A. (2006) Lexical and semantic binding in verbal short-term memory. Journal of Memory and Language 54: 81-98.

Jefferies, E., Bateman, D. & Lambon Ralph, M.A. (2005) The role of the temporal lobe semantic system in number knowledge: Evidence from late-stage semantic dementia. Neuropsychologia 43: 887-905.

Jefferies, E., Jones, R., Bateman, D. & Lambon Ralph, M.A. (2005) A semantic contribution to nonword recall? Evidence for intact phonological processes in semantic dementia. Cognitive Neuropsychology 22: 183-212.

Jefferies, E., Patterson, K., Jones, R., Bateman, D. & Lambon Ralph, M.A. (2004) Surface dyslexia in semantic dementia: A comparison of the influence of consistency and regularity. Neurocase 10: 290-299.

Jefferies, E., Jones, R., Bateman, D. & Lambon Ralph, M.A. (2004) When does word meaning affect immediate serial recall in semantic dementia? Cognitive, Affective and Behavioral Neuroscience 4: 20-42.

Jefferies, E., Patterson, K., Jones, R., Bateman, D. & Lambon Ralph, M.A. (2004) A category-specific advantage for numbers in verbal short-term memory: Evidence from semantic dementia. Neuropsychologia 42: 639-660.

Jefferies E., Lambon Ralph, M.A. & Baddeley A.D. (2004) Automatic and controlled processing in sentence recall: The role of long-term and working memory. Journal of Memory and Language 51: 623-643.

Teaching

Undergraduate

  • Perception and Cognition Year 1 (Undergraduate core module) 2010-current
  • Perception and Cognition Year 2 (Undergraduate core module) 2007-current

Postgraduate

  • Topics in Cognitive Neuroscience (MSc) 2008-current
  • Topics in Psychological Research (Postgraduate taught modules) 2011-current

 

External activities

Memberships

Societies

  • Experimental Psychology Society
  • British Neuropsychological Society (member of the executive committee)

Honours and awards

  • BPS Award

Outstanding Doctoral Research Contributions to Psychology (2004)

  • Elizabeth Warrington Prize

British Neuropsychological Society (2008)

  • Cortex Prize

Federation of European Societies of Neuropsychology (2010)

 

External Examiner

Durham (BSc in Psychology)

Leeds (MSc in Memory and its Disorders)

B.Jefferies(ej514)-200w

Contact details

Prof. Beth Jefferies
Professor
Department of Psychology
Room PS/E007

Tel: 01904 324368