Melissa C Duff, PhD

DuffM
Communication Sciences & Disorders
Assistant Professor
Summary statement: 

Memory, communication and social interaction

Office phone: 
(319) 384-4702
Office number: 
121D
Office building: 
WJSHC (250 Hawkins Drive)

Concomitant impairments in memory and social functioning are the hallmarks of numerous neurological (e.g., traumatic brain injury, Alzheimer’s disease) and psychiatric (e.g., schizophrenia, depression) diseases. Not only are deficits in memory and social functioning common in such individuals and diseases, they are considered among the most handicapping of cognitive impairments. The research in my lab is designed to integrate the study of memory, communication, and social interaction so as to better understand the interactions and interdependencies of these domains in human behavior.

Specifically, our research is aimed at: 1) investigations of the interdependent relationship between memory and language and the contribution of declarative memory to social functioning; 2) characterization of preserved and impaired memory, communicative, and social abilities following acquired brain damage; and 3) development and validation of effective intervention approaches for individuals with disorders of memory and social functioning. Our work seeks to inform theoretical and neurobiological frameworks of memory and social functioning and to translate scientific knowledge into clinical application, helping to improve the lives of individuals with impairments in memory and social functioning.

“I am from Taiwan, which means in addition to learning neuroscience, I also need to learn the language and culture of the United States. Iowa, especially the neuroscience program, provides me with an extremely friendly environment in which to learn. People in the program are warm, open-minded, and very willing to help me with my language questions, culture shock, homesickness, etc. In Taiwan, we say, “When you are home, you rely on your family; when you are not home, you rely on your friends. ” I made many friends in Iowa. In school, we help each other with classes and research. After school, we go out together, play sports together, and every once in a while, travel together (to nearby big cities and to conferences). Pursuing a Ph.D. degree is a long and difficult process. I am so glad that I came to Iowa for my degree because my friends and advisers here have been the always, most immediate, and most helpful support to me.”