2018 Distinguished Career Award

The Society for the Neurobiology of Language is pleased to announce the 2018 Distinguished Career Award winner: Steven L. Small.

The Distinguished Career Award is generously sponsored by Language, Cognition and Neuroscience.

Chair: Lorraine Tyler, University of Cambridge

Bharath ChandrasekaranSteven L. Small

Professor of Neurology, Neurobiology & Behavior, and Cognitive Sciences
University of California, Irvine

The career of Steven L. Small has been fundamentally dedicated to understanding the neurobiology of language. Dr. Small completed his undergraduate training in mathematics at Dartmouth College, his Ph.D. in computer science at the University of Maryland, and his M.D. at the University of Rochester. For his dissertation, Dr. Small built a parser, reflecting an early interest in the complex rules governing human language. A neurology residency at the University of Pittsburgh developed his understanding of the brain that engenders this ability. The unique perspective afforded by this rare combination of backgrounds has caused Dr. Small to be consistently positioned at the forefront of the study of the neurobiology of language, and led to the founding of this Society, in collaboration with Dr. Pascale Tremblay.

Over the past four decades, Dr. Small has made many critical scientific contributions to the neurobiology of language. These include copious work in normal language function, as well as post-stroke aphasia, and early focal brain injury. His recent work focuses on the interactions between the neural systems for controlling movement and those related to speech production and comprehension. Dr. Small’s research consistently uses innovative methods to interrogate language production and processing, including multivariate structural equation models applied to observation and imitation of audiovisual speech from the level of syllables to discourse. In studies of naturalistic language comprehension, development following early stroke, and aphasia recovery, Dr. Small has used functional network analyses and graph theoretical approaches to characterize the complexity of the language system. Important advances from this work include the surprising finding of preserved network structure among language areas following pre- and peri-natal stroke. In sum, Dr. Small’s scientific contributions bring us closer to understanding and modeling the neurobiology of language.