Professor Rosemary Varley, BSc, MA, PhD, MRCSLT.

Rosemary Varley

Department of Human Communication Sciences
University of Sheffield
362 Mushroom Lane
S10 2TS
United Kingdom

Tel: +44 (0) 114 222 2449
Fax: +44 (0) 114 273 0547

email :


Rosemary Varley is Professor of Cognitive Neuroscience at the University of Sheffield. Her research focuses on developing biologically plausible accounts of human cognition, particularly in the domains of speech and language, and language-linked cognitive function. She gained her undergraduate degree from the University of Newcastle, and postgraduate degrees from the University of Sheffield. Previous posts have included clinical work within the NHS, and three-years at the University of Hong Kong. In 2006, She was awarded an ESRC Professorial Fellowship.

Current research uses a range of methodologies: behavioural studies with healthy adults and people with aphasia and apraxia of speech; fMRI and TMS research. Particular areas of interest are the effects of severe aphasia on non-language cognition, and use of intensive behavioural stimulation regimes to facilitate recovery from aphasia and apraxia.

Research interests

  • Role of language in thought through investigation of cognitive abilities of people with severe aphasia (e.g., mathematics, theory of mind, navigation and complex inferencing).
  • The neuroscience of rehabilitation.
  • Models of speech encoding and the treatment of post-stroke word production impairments

Professional activities

ESRC Professorial Fellowship 2006-9.

Current projects

  • Language and thought: the evidence from severe aphasia. £380,000. ESRC.
  • Role of language in navigation, with Mark Blades, Michael Siegal & Jude Bek
  • Recursion in agrammatic aphasia: experiments in artificial grammar learning, with Vitor Zimmerer & Patricia Cowell
  • Calculation in severe aphasia, with Michael Siegal, Ying Zheng, & Yael Benn
  • Implicit language processing in severe aphasia, with Carrie Ankerstein
  • Word retrieval therapy for aphasia. £90,000. Stroke Association Bursary Award, with Ruth Herbert
  • Neural mechanisms of speech control investigated through transcranial magnetic stimulation, with Catrin Blank & Barbara Rosario (Neurology), Anthony Barker (Medical Physics), & Ganesh Rao. £72,679, Research into Ageing.
  • Self-administered behavioural intervention for communication impairments following stroke, with Sandra Whiteside & Patricia Cowell (HCS), Catrin Blank (Neurology), Tracey Young (ScHARR), £251,834. The BUPA Foundation.


  • Psychology (Sheffield): Professor Michael Siegal, Dr Mark Blades, Dr Ying Zheng.
  • Neurology (Sheffield): Dr Catrin Blank.
  • Research associate: Dr Carrie Ankerstein.
  • PhD Students: Jude Bek, Yael Benn (with Psychology), Emma Jones, Barbara Rosario (with Medicine), Vitor Zimmerer.

Key publications

  1. Bek. J., Blades, M., Siegal, M. & Varley, R. 2010. Language and spatial representation: evidence from severe aphasia. Journal of Experimental Psychology: Learning, Memory and Cognition. In press.
  2. Klessinger, N., Szczerbinski, M., & Varley, R. 2007. Algebra in a man with severe aphasia. Neuropsychologia, 45, 1642-1648.
  3. Varley, R., Klessinger, N., Romanowski, C., & Siegal, M. 2005. Agrammatic but numerate. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, USA. 102, 3519-3524.
  4. Varley, R., Cowell, P.E., Gibson, A., Romanowski, C.A.J. 2005. Disconnection Agraphia in a Case of Multiple Sclerosis: The Isolation of Letter Movement Plans from Language. Neuropsychologia. 43, 10, 1503-1513.
  5. Siegal, M. & Varley, R. 2002. Neural systems involved in theory of mind. Nature Reviews Neuroscience, 3, 462-471.
  6. Varley, R. A. & Whiteside, S. P. 2001. What is the underlying impairment in acquired apraxia of speech? Aphasiology, 15, 39-49.