Michele Theresa Diaz, PhD


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Assistant Professor in Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences
Associate Director for Scientific Administration of the Center for Brain Imaging and Analysis
Department / Division:
Psychiatry / Translational Neuroscience
Room 5162, 5th Floor, Hock Plaza
2424 Erwin Road, Suite 501
Durham, NC 27705
Office Telephone:
(919) 681-9528
  • PhD, Duke University, 2005
Research Interests:
Language is a ubiquitous aspect of human life. Much remains to be learned about the neural infrastructure that supports this complex social and cognitive function. My research has focused on understanding the neural infrastructure of various aspects of receptive and productive language. Most recently I have been interested in how novelty and figurativeness influence recruitment of the right hemisphere. I have also been examining age-related changes in language. Specifically, this research project looks at neural factors that contribute to age-related retention (semantics) and decline (phonology) that have been observed in language. We are investigating the relations between structural factors (i.e., white matter integrity), functional activations, and behavior.

Previously, I have used electrophysiology to examine how semantic and phonological processes interact during spoken language comprehension. Using functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging (fMRI), I have investigated the neural substrates of orthographic, lexical, and semantic aspects of visual word processing, and the influence of conscious perception on the engagement of brain regions that support these processes. Finally, my involvement with the Biomedical Informatics Research Network (BIRN) project has allowed me to explore technical issues related to multi-site imaging, such as quality assurance measures and reliability.