Diane Swick, Ph.D.

 Diane  Swick, Ph.D.


  • Associate Adjunct Professor
  • VA Northern California (Neurology)


Cognitive Neuroscience of Executive Control, Memory, Language

Research Summary

Research in the Cognitive Neuropsychology and Electrophysiology Lab has covered three general topics: executive control, language, and memory. We employ the methods of neuropsychology, electrophysiology, and structural neuroimaging. Neuropsychology is the experimental study of the cognitive abilities of patients with acquired brain damage, whereas electrophysiology includes the use of event-related potentials (ERPs) to gain insight into the timing of cognitive processes. In cases of focal brain injury, structural MRI is used to determine the necessity of particular brain regions for implementing a cognitive process or generating an ERP component.

Traumatic brain injury (TBI) and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)

The CNE lab is currently researching the effects of mild TBI and PTSD. We are interested in separating out the symptoms of these two conditions, but this has been complicated by the fact that the two are frequently seen together in veterans who served in Afghanistan or Iraq. We are also examining the effects of moderate to severe TBI, in addition to other neurological conditions such as stroke. These projects use a combination of behavioral and ERP methods.

Executive control and frontal lobe functions

Our recent work is informed by the CNE Lab's general interest in executive control and frontal lobe functions, especially:

  •     Response inhibition in neurological and psychiatric disorders
  •     The anterior cingulate cortex and executive control
  •     Relationships between executive function and emotion
  •     Electrophysiological measures of error monitoring (the ERN and Feedback Negativity)
  •     The effects of multitasking on working memory

Language and aphasia

We maintain an interest in language and aphasia using a combination of behavioral, ERP, and structural imaging methods. Specific areas of research include:

  •     Acquired disorders of reading ("pure" alexia, or alexia without agraphia)
  •     Relationships between morphological, phonological, and semantic processing in aphasia
  •     Perceptual and propositional approaches to conceptual representation
  •     Executive components of language

Select Publications

Ashley, V., Honzel, N., Larsen, J., Justus, T., & Swick, D. (2013). Attentional bias for trauma-related words: Exaggerated emotional Stroop effect in Afghanistan and Iraq war veterans with PTSD. BMC: Psychiatry 13:86.

Swick, D., Honzel, N., Larsen, J., Ashley, V., & Justus, T. (2012). Impaired response inhibition in veterans with post-traumatic stress disorder and mild traumatic brain injury. Journal of the International Neuropsychological Society 18: 1-10.

Pratt, N., Willoughby, A., & Swick, D. (2011). Effects of working memory load on visual selective attention: Behavioral and electrophysiological evidence. Frontiers in Human Neuroscience 5: 57.

Swick, D., Ashley, V., & Turken, A. U. (2011). Are the neural correlates of stopping and not going identical? Quantitative meta-analysis of two response inhibition tasks. Neuroimage 56: 1655-1665.

Justus, T., Larsen, J., Yang, J., de Mornay Davies, P., Dronkers, N., & Swick, D. (2011). The role of Broca's area in regular past-tense morphology: An event-related potential study. Neuropsychologia 49: 1-18.

Justus, T., Yang, J., Larsen, J., de Mornay Davies, P., & Swick, D. (2009). An event-related potential study of cross-modal morphological and phonological priming. Journal of Neurolinguistics 22: 584-604.

Ashley, V., & Swick, D. (2009). Consequences of emotional stimuli: Age differences on pure and mixed blocks of the emotional Stroop. Behavioral and Brain Functions 5: 14.

Swick, D., Ashley, V., & Turken, A. U. (2008). Left inferior frontal gyrus is critical for response inhibition. BMC Neuroscience 9: 102.

Turken, A. U., & Swick, D. (2008). The effect of orbitofrontal lesions on the error-related negativity. Neuroscience Letters 441: 7-10.

Justus, T., Larsen, J., de Mornay Davies, P., & Swick, D. (2008). Interpreting dissociations between regular and irregular past-tense morphology: Evidence from event-related potentials. Cognitive, Affective, & Behavioral Neuroscience 8: 178-194.

Larsen, J., Baynes, K., & Swick, D. (2004). Right hemisphere reading mechanisms in a global alexic patient. Neuropsychologia 42: 1459-1476.

Ashley, V., Vuilleumier, P., & Swick, D. (2004). Time course and specificity of event-related potentials to emotional expressions. NeuroReport 15: 211-216.

Miller, K.M. & Swick, D. (2003). Orthography influences the perception of speech in alexic patients. Journal of Cognitive Neuroscience 15: 981-990.

Swick, D. & Turken, A.U. (2002). Dissociation between conflict detection and error monitoring in the human anterior cingulate cortex. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 99: 16354-16359.

Swick, D. & Jovanovich, J. (2002). Anterior cingulate cortex and the Stroop task: Neuropsychological evidence for topographic specificity. Neuropsychologia 40: 1240-1253.

Turken, A.U. & Swick, D. (1999). Response selection in the human anterior cingulate cortex. Nature Neuroscience 2: 920-924.


Department of Neurology

Center for Mind and Brain

Neuroscience Graduate Group

Psychology Graduate Group

Center for Aphasia & Related Disorders