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.

“What convinced me to attend Iowa was the Neuroscience Program. There's a deep commitment to neuroscience research at the University of Iowa, and it's reflected in the strength of the Neuroscience Program. Annually, it's ranked as one of the highest doctoral programs at the university, and the ongoing research conducted by the faculty and students is excellent. The interdisciplinary aspect of the program is tremendous for one's graduate education. There's a conflux of molecular/cellular, cognitive, systems, and behavioral research in the program and it really allows each student in the program to gain a broad spectrum of skills and knowledge in the field of neuroscience. But, the program was also attractive to me for reasons outside of the curriculum and research. From the moment I arrived on campus, the program has felt like a family. Students help each other out, and offer a great support system. And after several years of being in the program, I can undoubtedly say, Iowa was the perfect choice for me.”