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Kyrana Tsapkini, Ph.D.
Assistant Professor of Neurology
Expertise: Dementia, Primary Aphasias, Primary Progressive Aphasias, Speech and Language Disorders After Stroke
Dr. Tsapkini is an Assistant Professor of Neurology at the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine. She trained in the U.S. and Canada. Her expertise is in the domain of language—especially from an interdisciplinary approach—combining cognitive science, psychology, and neural sciences.
- Assistant Professor of Neurology
Departments / Divisions
- Neurology - Neurology-Vascular
- Ph.D., University of Montreal (Canada) (2001)
- Licensed Psychologist in Greece (#24/2639/28/1/2005)
Research & Publications
My research examines the interactions between language and cognitive systems in post-stroke and primary progressive aphasia (PPA). In my investigations I have used several methods of brain imaging, incorporating carefully designed activation paradigms, brain stimulation techniques, and experimental psychology into my research. Recently, I have used DTI, resting-state fMRI and MR spectroscopy to assess changes in the language networks post-intervention in neural degenerative diseases. I have worked extensively on several neurolinguistic and neuroimaging projects. At my Ph.D. research and the first years of my academic career in neuropsychology, I was interested in how culture and language influence grammatical processing—and in particular the distinction between nouns and verbs—in healthy controls and after language breakdown due to post-stroke aphasia. I investigated morphosyntactic processing in several languages and I adapted and validated several assessment tools that are now used extensively both in clinical practice and aphasiological research in my native Greece. While I was still serving as faculty in Thessaloniki, Greece, I started a collaboration with Dr. Brenda Rapp at Johns Hopkins University and during my leave of absence from my faculty position I was able to stay at Hopkins and learn how to apply and interpret task-fMRI in brain-damaged individuals. In particular, I investigated the contribution of the fusiform gyrus in reading and spelling in a series of case-studies as well as healthy controls’ studies. I applied new statistical methods in fMRI processing, i.e., I used Crawford and Garthwaite’s methods for comparing single cases to a group of controls and initiated the use of Mahalanobis distance to determine whether brain-damaged individuals’ activations were normal or not. In the recent years this line of research has led me to interventional studies of spelling using tDCS. After my permanent return to the US I was introduced to language interventions in neurodegenerative diseases by Dr. Argye Hillis. I was awarded the inauguration grant from the Science of Learning Institute at Johns Hopkins University that enabled me to compare behavioral and neural effects of tDCS and sham interventions coupled with language therapy in individuals with PPA. I have already published the first study on the effects of tDCS in PPA and have submitted a paper on neural effects of tDCS in PPA using resting-state fMRI. I have recently been awarded and R01 grant from NIH to expand this line of research and look closer to how tDCS may affect neurodegenenrative processes.
Lab Website: Language Neuromodulation Lab
Clinical Trial KeywordsPrimary progressive aphasia, Post-stroke aphasia
I am the registered PI of 2 approved clinical trials with their corresponding IRBs:
- TDCS interventions in primary progressive aphasia (NCT02606422)
- Effects of tDCS in post-stroke aphasia (NCT02622945)
Selected PublicationsView all on Pubmed
1. Jarema G, Busson C, Nikolova R, Tsapkini K, Libben G. Processing compounds: A cross-linguistic study. Brain and Language, 1999; 68(1-2), 362-369.
2. Kehayia, E, Jarema, G, Tsapkini, K, Perlak, D, Ralli, A, & Kadzielawa, D. "The role of morphological structure in the processing of compounds: interface between linguistics and psycholinguistics," Brain and Language, 1999;68(1-2), 370-377.
3. Tsapkini, K, Kehayia, E & Jarema, G. ‘Does phonological change play a role in the recognition of derived forms across modalities?’ Brain and Language, 1999;68(1-2),318-323.
4. Tsapkini, K, Jarema, G, & Kehayia, E. ‘Manifestations of morphological impairments in Greek aphasia: A case study’. Journal of Neurolinguistics, 2001;14, 281-296.
5. Tsapkini, K, Jarema, G & Kehayia, E. "A morphological processing deficit in verbs but not in nouns: A case study in a highly inflected language". Journal of Neurolinguistics, 2002;15, 265-288.
6. Tsapkini, K, Jarema, G & Kehayia, E. "Regularity revisited: Evidence from lexical access of verbs and nouns in Greek". Brain and Language, 2002;81, 103-119.
7. Tsapkini, K, Jarema, G & DiSciullo. "The role of configurational asymmetry in the lexical access of prefixed verbs: Evidence from French". Brain and Language, 2004;90,143-150.
8. Tsapkini, K, Jarema, G & Kehayia, E. "Regularity re-revisited: Modality matters" Brain and Language, 2004;89, 611-616.
9. Kosmidis, ME, Tsapkini, K, Folia, V, Vlachou, CH, Kiosseoglou, G. "Semantic and phonological processing in illiteracy" Journal of the International Neuropsychological Society, 2004;10, 818-27.
10. Ypsilanti, A, Grouios, G, Alevriadou, A, & Tsapkini, K. "Word knowledge in Williams’ and Down syndromes" Journal of Intellectual Disabilities Research, 2005;49, 353-364.
11. Emmanuil, Α, Tsapkini, Κ & Rudolph, J. ‘Deep dyslexia in a language of shallow orthography: Evidence from Greek’. Hellenic Journal of Psychology, 2006;14,1-34. (article in Greek)
12. Kosmidis, ME, Tsapkini, K, Folia, V 2006. "Lexical processing in illiteracy: Effect of literacy or education?" Cortex, 2007;42(7), 1021-1027.
13. Vivas, A, Tsapkini, K, & Triarchou, L. ‘Anatomo-biological considerations on the centers of language’: An Argentinian contribution to the 1906 Paris debate on aphasia. Brain and Development, 29(8), 455-461.
14. Tsapkini, K, Vivas, A, & Triarchou, L. ‘Does ‘Broca’s area exist?’ Christofredo Jakob’s 1906 response to Pierre Marie’s holistic stance’ Brain and Language, 2008;105(3), 211-219.
15. Tsapkini, K, & Rapp, B. "Orthographic-specific functions of the left fusiform gyrus: Evidence for modality-and category-specificity". Cortex, 2009;46(2):185-205.
16. Andreou, C, Tsapkini, K, Bozikas, V, Giannakou, M, Karavatos, A, & Nimatoudis, I. ‘Effects of sentence context on lexical ambiguity resolution in patients with schizophrenia’. Neuropsychologia, 2009;47(4), 1079-1087.
17. Fyndanis, V, Varlokosta, S, & Tsapkini, K. Integrating representational and processing accounts in agrammatic aphasia: Evidence from Greek verbal inflection. Journal of Neurolinguistics 2010;23:644-62.
18. Paraskevopoulos, E, Tsapkini, K, & Peretz, I. Cultural aspects of music perception: Validation of a Greek version of the Montreal Battery of Evaluation of Amusias. Journal of the International Neuropsychological Society 2010;16(4), 695-704.
19. Tsapkini, K, Vlachou, CH, & Potagas, C. Adaptation and validation of standardized aphasia tests in different languages: Lessons from the BDAE-Short Form in Greek. Behavioral Neurology, 2010;22(3-4), 111-119.
20. Peristeri, E & Tsapkini, K. A comparison of the BAT and the BDAE-SF batteries in determining the linguistic ability of Greek-speaking patients with Broca’s aphasia. Clinical Linguistics and Phonetics, 2011;25(6-7):464-479.
21. Sepelyak, K, Crinion, J, Molitoris, J, Epstein-Peterson, Z, Bann, M, Davis, C, Newhart, M, Heidler-Gary, J, Tsapkini, K, & Hillis, A. Patterns of breakdown in spelling in Primary Progressive Aphasia. Cortex, 2011;47(3) 342-352.
22. Tsapkini, K, Vindiola, M, and Rapp, B. Patterns of brain reorganization subsequent to left fusiform damage: fMRI evidence form visual processing of words and pseudowords, faces and objects. Neuroimage, 2011;55:1357-72.
23. Tsapkini, K, Frangakis, C, and Hillis, AE. The function of the left anterior temporal lobe: evidence from acute stroke and infarct volume. Brain, 2011;134(Pt 10):3094-105.
24. Fyndanis V, Varlokosta S, Tsapkini K. Agrammatic production: Interpretable features and selective impairment in verb inflection. Lingua, 2012;122:1134-1147.
25. Epstein-Peterson Z, Faria A, Mori S, Hillis A, Tsapkini K. Relatively normal repetition performance despite severe disruption of the left arcuate fasciculus. Neurocase, 2012;18:521-6. (doi: 10.1080/ 13554794.2011.633531).
26. Faria A, Crinion J, Tsapkini K, Newhart M, Davis C, Cooley S, Mori S, Hillis A. Patterns of dysgraphia in primary progressive aphasia compared to post-stroke aphasia. Behavioural neurology, 2013;26:21-34. (doi: 10.3233/BEN-2012-110237).
27. Tsapkini K, Hillis AE. Spelling intervention in post-stroke aphasia and primary progressive aphasia. Behavioural neurology, 2013;26:55-66. (doi: 10.3233/BEN-2012-110240).
28. Peristeri, E, Tsimpli, IM, & Tsapkini, K. The on-line processing of unaccusativity in Greek agrammatism. Journal of Applied Psycholinguistics, 2013;34:233-276. (doi: 10.1017/S0142716411000683).
29. Fyndanis, V, Varlokosta, S, & Tsapkini, K. (Morpho)syntactic comprehension in agrammatic aphasia: Evidence from Greek. Aphasiology, 2013;27:398-419. (doi: 10.1080/02687038.2013.770817).
30. Race, DS, Tsapkini, K, Crinion, J, Newhart, M, Davis, C, Gomez, Y, Hillis, AE & Faria, AV. An Area Essential for Linking Word Meanings to Word Forms: Evidence from Primary Progressive Aphasia. Brain and Language. 2013;127:167-176.
31. Jarso, S, Li, M, Faria, AV, Davis, C, Leigh, R, Sebastian, R, Tsapkini, K, Mori, S, & Hillis, AE. Distinct Mechanisms and Timing of Language Recovery after Stroke. Cognitive Neuropsychology, 2013;30(7-8):
32. Tsapkini, K, Peristeri, E, Tsimpli, IM, & Jarema, G. Morphological decomposition in Broca’s aphasia. Aphasiology, 2014;34:233-276.
33. Tsapkini, K, Frangakis, C, Gomez, Y, Davis, C, , & Hillis, AE. Augmentation of spelling therapy with transcranial direct current stimulation in primary progressive aphasia: Preliminary results and challenges. Aphasiology. 2014; 28(8-9):1112-1130.
34. Tsapkini, K, Webb-Vargas, Y, Faria, A, Chakravarty, T, Frangakis, C, Rapp, B, Desmond, JE, Lindquist, M, & Hillis, AE. Transcranial direct current stimulation changes functional brain connectivity in primary progressive aphasia. (Submitted to the Journal of Neuroscience).
35. Webster, K, Chkravarty, T, Ficek, B, Onyike, CU, Frangakis, CE, Hillis AE, & Tsapkini, K. Comparing electrostimulation outcomes in the logopenic and non-fluent variants of primary progressive aphasia. (To be submitted to the Journal of Neurology, Neurosurgery and psychiatry).
36. Ficek, B, Chakravarty, T, Webster, K, Frangakis, CE, Hillis, AE, Tsapkini, K. Does tDCS affect non-treated language and cognitive functions in primary progressive aphasia? (To be submitted to Neurology)
37. Riello, M, Faria, A, Lindquist, M, Frangakis, CE, Desmond, J, Hillis, AE, & Tsapkini, K. Are the volumes of the language network cortical areas markers for language and cognitive deficits in primary progressive aphasia? (To be submitted to Brain).
38. Harris, A, Edden, R, Barker, P, Hillis, AE, & Tsapkini, K. Anodal transcranial direct current stimulation in the left inferior frontal gyrus reduces GABA in primary progressive aphasia. (To be submitted to the Journal of Molecular Medicine).
Review Articles [RA]
39. Tippett, D, Hillis, AE, & Tsapkini, K. Treatment of Primary Progressive Aphasia. Current Treatment Options in Neurology. 2015; 17:34.
40. Sebastian, R, Tsapkini, K, & Tippett, D. Transcranial direct current stimulation in post-stroke aphasia nd primary progressive aphasia: Current knowledge and future clinical applications. NeuroRehabilitation: An Interdisciplinary Journal. (in press).
Book Chapters in Peer-Reviewed Books [BC]
1. Funnell, M, Metcalfe, J, & Tsapkini, K. "In the mind but not on the tongue: Feeling of Knowing in an anomic patient`". In Lynne M. Reder (ed.) Implicit Memory and Metacognition. Hillsdale, NJ: LEA. 1996. (pp. 171-193).
2. Tsapkini, K., Kehayia, E. & Jarema, G. "Phonological change in derivation: From theoretical construct to psycholinguistic performance." CLASNET Working Papers, Proceedings of the 1st International Meeting of the Mental Lexicon Research Group. 1998. Montreal, QC.
3. Tsapkini, K, Jarema, G, & Kehayia, E. ‘Manifestations of morphological impairments in Greek aphasia: A case study’. In Michel Paradis (Ed.), Manifestations of aphasic symptoms in different languages. Amsterdam: Elsevier Science, Pergamon Press. 2001. (pp. 197-212)
4. Tsapkini, K, Jarema, G & Kehayia, E. ‘The role of verbal morphology in aphasia during lexical access: Evidence from Greek’ In E. Fava (Ed.), Clinical linguistics: theory and applications in speech pathology and therapy. Series in CILT (Current issues in linguistic theory), Amsterdam & Philadelphia: John Benjamins. 2002. (pp. 315-336).
5. Koniari, D, Proios H, Tsapkini, K, Triarhou LC. Singing But Not Speaking: A Retrospect on Music-Language Interrelationships in the Human Brain since Otto Marburg’s Zur Frage der Amusie (1919). In Alexandra M. Columbus (Ed.), Advances in Psychology Research (Vol. 87). Hauppauge NY: Nova Science Publishers. 2011. (pp. 239-248).
6. Tsapkini, K & Hillis, AE. The Cognitive Neuroscience of Written Language: The neural substrates of reading and writing. In Oxford Handbook of Cognitive Neuroscience (Volume 1: Core topics). New York: Oxford University Press. 2014. (pp. 491-506).
7. Tsapkini, K & Hillis, AE. Neuroanatomical aspects of reading. In The Handbook of Adult Language Disorders. New York, NY: Psychology press. 2015. (pp. 24-37).
Contact for Research Inquiries
Department of Neurology
600 North Wolfe Street
Baltimore, MD 21287 map
Activities & Honors
- Independent research grant award (R01) from NIH/NIDCD on ‘Effects of transcranial direct current stimulation (tDCS) in oral and written production in primary progressive aphasia (PPA)’ (R01 DC014475), NIH/NIDCD, 2015 - 2016
- Science of Learning Award for research on effects of tDCS in primary progressive aphasia
- Academy of Aphasia
2000 - Present
- Society for the Neurobiology of Language
- Journal Reviewer
Videos & Media
Lectures and Presentations
Why early language rehabilitation is important in neurodegenerative diseases
Invited Lecture/TED Talk, Department of Neurology, Johns Hopkins, Baltimore (03/31/2016)
Effects of transcranial direct current stimulation on spelling performance in primary progressive aphasia
Invited Lecture, College Park, MD (12/31/2013)
Department of Hearing and Speech-Language Pathology, University of Maryland
Effects of transcranial direct current stimulation on spelling performance in primary progressive aphasia
Invited Lecture, Clinical Neuroscience Seminar, Baltimore, MD (11/30/2013)
Department of Neurology, Johns Hopkins Medicine