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Tijana Simic

Simic TijanaTell us a bit about yourself. Where are you from?

Currently, I’m a doctoral student under the supervision of Dr. Elizabeth Rochon at the University of Toronto, which is also where I completed my Master of Health Science in Speech-Language Pathology, and my Bachelor of Science in Psychology Research and French Literature.  I was born in Serbia and moved to Toronto when I was five years old. I have lived here ever since, except in 2008, when I spent a year teaching English in the south of France and travelling around Europe. In 2012, I began working clinically with stroke survivors.

What compelled you to pursue stroke research?

In grade four, my science teacher performed a perceptual experiment on our class, and ever since then, I have been fascinated with how the brain works. Through my undergraduate coursework in Psychology, it became clear that many discoveries about the inner workings of the brain occurred by studying individuals post-stroke. Subsequently, the coursework and placements I did for my Master’s degree, as well as my clinical work, brought me face to face with stroke survivors, who shared their stories with me and taught me about the recovery process. These experiences have compelled me to pursue research which takes into consideration both the scientific and clinical aspects of stroke.

What is the focus of your research?

The focus of my research is to further explore language impairments, namely aphasia, following stroke.  Specifically, I am interested in understanding whether cognitive factors, such as an individual’s level of executive control, can explain why certain individuals benefit from language therapy, while others do not.

At what stage are you in your research, and what are your current future plans?

I am in my second year of doctoral studies. Currently, I am completing a systematic review of the existing literature to determine whether executive control is predictive of language gains after treatment. I’m also in the process of recruiting participants and collecting and analyzing data for this same topic. I plan to continue doing stroke research in the future, through post-doctoral fellowships or work in academic or research institutions. I would like to extend my research to bilingual populations, as well as to develop language treatments tailored to individuals’ executive control profiles.

How do you and others benefit from being part of the National Trainee Association?

The National Trainee Association is very helpful in bringing the community of stroke researchers and trainees together both online and in person, and informing us of the latest developments in the field. Of course, it also provides funding opportunities to trainees which are very valuable in pushing our research forward.

What other interests do you have?

I am a self-proclaimed linguaphile! I love languages, and am always curious to learn more. Currently I speak Serbian, English, French, Italian and a little bit of Spanish!