Karalyn Patterson

Karalyn Patterson

Areas of Interest

Science and Technology

Honorary Award

Honorary Doctor of Science, 2015


Professor Karalyn Patterson is a Senior Research Fellow in the Department of Clinical Neurosciences, University of Cambridge; a Visiting Scientist at the MRC Cognition & Brain Sciences Unit in Cambridge; and Fellow and Wine Steward of Darwin College, Cambridge.

Since completing her PhD at the University of California in San Diego in 1972, Karalyn has become a pioneering and internationally renowned researcher in the area of cognitive neuropsychology - a field of study in which she has had a hugely significant impact, both theoretically and in terms of the innovations she has developed in practical methodology. 

Over the past 30 years, Karalyn has been a world leader in her research area, which focuses on what we can learn about the organisation and neural representation of language and memory from the study of neurological patients suffering from the onset of brain disease or damage in adulthood.  This research includes extensive cognitive testing of different patient groups in order to identify processes that are impaired, and those that remain relatively preserved. 

It would be difficult to overstate Karalyn’s contribution to the field.  To provide a sense of her ongoing impact, over the past five years her research has been cited in published articles around 1,300 times each year.  She has published over 250 papers, which, according to Web of Science, have garnered almost 20,000 citations.  And her work has been a standard feature in cognitive psychology textbooks for the past 20 years.

Karalyn is one of a very select group of academics who have been elected fellows of three of the UK’s most prestigious national academies; the Royal Society, which is the UK's national academy for science; the British Academy, the UK's national academy for humanities and social sciences; and the Academy of Medical Sciences, the UK's national academy for biomedicine – all deserved and apt recognition for her outstanding contribution to her field.

Karalyn has been a pioneer in the field of cognitive neuropsychology, deploying a truly multi-disciplinary approach that spans behavioural observation, computational modelling, neuropsychological testing and functional neuroimaging.  During her 30 years as a programme leader at the MRC Cognition and Brain Sciences Unit, her ground-breaking work in the areas of acquired dyslexia and semantic dementia has made an enormous contribution to science’s understanding of how language and memory are organised in the brain, and how they are impacted by Alzheimer's disease and other types of dementia. 

Professor Patterson is one of the founding members of the British Neuropsychological Society and has lived in Cambridge for the past 40 years.

Anglia Ruskin University already enjoys close links with Professor Patterson.  She has presented to our Psychology students and alumni and has co-authored papers with researchers in our Faculty of Science and Technology.  At a time when we are seeking to support and promote women’s careers in science, technology, engineering, maths and medicine through the Athena Swan Charter Scheme, Karalyn will make an inspirational role model for our students.