Erica L. Middleton, PhD

Institute Scientist
Director of Language and Learning Laboratory
Erica L. Middleton, PhD

Dr. Middleton’s research focuses on understanding how words are mentally represented and produced, both in healthy speakers as well as in people who have experienced language impairment due to stroke (called aphasia).

A major emphasis in her work is to delineate how treatments can be designed in accord fundamental principles of human learning to maximize and sustain recovery.

Dr. Middleton holds a PhD in cognitive psychology with a specialization in psycholinguistics from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. She received postdoctoral training in a joint appointment at Moss Rehabilitation Research Institute and the University of Pennsylvania.

Dr. Middleton’s published research has appeared in peer-reviewed journals in psychology, neuropsychology, and rehabilitation including Cognition, Cortex, Journal of Memory and Language, Journal of Experimental Psychology: Learning, Memory, & Cognition, Cognitive Neuropsychology, Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research, and Neuropsychological Rehabilitation.

Dr. Middleton has received research funding from the National Institutes of Health and the Albert Einstein Society (Einstein Healthcare Network, Philadelphia, PA).


Research Interests
  • Characterizing the lexical representations and processes that underpin word production, and how they are damaged in aphasia
  • Establishing how lexical systems are repaired (i.e., lexical learning) via retrieval practice (i.e., practice with retrieving names from long-term memory) and efficacious schedules of learning
  • Impact of lexical competition on lexical learning
  • Speech error monitoring in aphasia and implications for lexical learning


Selected Publications

Below are selected publications by Dr. Middleton.  For a full list of her published research, click here.


In press/2022

Nunn, K., Vallila-Rohter, S., & Middleton, E. L. (in press) Errorless learning, errorful learning, and retrieval practice for naming treatment in aphasia: A scoping review of learning mechanisms and treatment ingredients. Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research. PMC Journal—In process.

Mirman, D. and E. L. Middleton, Disorders of lexical access and production, in The Oxford Handbook of the Mental Lexicon, A. Papafragou, J.C. Trueswell, and L.R. Gleitman, Editors. 2022, Oxford University Press: New York, NY, USA.

 Middleton, E. L., Duquette, K. D., Rawson, K., & Mirman, D. (In press). An examination of retrieval practice and production training in the treatment of lexical-semantic comprehension deficits in aphasia. Neuropsychology. PMID: 36048069

Middleton, E. L., Schwartz, M. F., Dell, G. S., & Brecher, A. (2022). Learning from errors: Exploration of the monitoring learning effect. Cognition, 224, 105057. PMC9086111.

Patra, A., Traut, H., Stabile, M., & Middleton, E. L. (2022). Effortful retrieval practice effects in lexical access: A role for semantic competition. Language, Cognition and Neuroscience, 37(8), 948-963. NIHMS1774470



Stoll, H., DeWitt, M. M., Middleton, E. L., & Buxbaum, L. (2021). Treating limb apraxia via action semantic: A preliminary study. Neuropsychological Rehabilitation, 31(7), 1145-1162. PMC7674248


Schuchard, J., Rawson, K. A., & Middleton, E. L. (2020). Effects of distributed practice and criterion level on word retrieval in aphasia. Cognition, 198, 104216. PMC7197013

Middleton, E. L., Schuchard, J., & Rawson, K. A. (2020). A review of the application of distributed practice principles to naming treatment in aphasia. Topics in Language Disorders, 40(1), 36-53. PMC7437680



Middleton, E. L., Rawson, K. A., & Verkuilen, J. (2019). Retrieval practice and spacing effects in multi-session treatment of naming impairment in aphasia. Cortex, 119, 386-400. PMC6783359

Anderson, N. D., Holmes, E. W., Dell, G. S., & Middleton, E. L. (2019). Reversal shift in phonotactic learning during language production: Evidence for incremental learning. Journal of Memory and Language, 106, 135-149.

Harvey, D. Y., Traut, H. J., & Middleton, E. L. (2019). Semantic interference in speech error production in a randomized continuous naming task: Evidence from aphasia. Language, Cognition, and Neuroscience, 34(1), 69-86. PMC6319938

Chen, Q., Middleton, E. L., & Mirman, D. (2019). Words fail: Lesion-symptom mapping of errors of omission in post-stroke aphasia. Journal of Neuropsychology, 13(2), 183-197. PMC6367056



Lorimor, H., Adams, N. C., Middleton, E. L. (2018). Agreement with conjoined NPs reflects language experience. Frontiers in Psychology, 9. PMC5917690

Schuchard, J., & Middleton, E. L. (2018). Word repetition and retrieval practice effects in aphasia: Evidence for use-dependent learning in lexical access. Cognitive Neuropsychology, 35(5-6), 271-287. PMC6089641

Schuchard, J., & Middleton, E. L. (2018). The roles of retrieval practice versus errorless learning in strengthening lexical access in aphasia. Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research, 61, 1700-1717. PMC6195057



Schuchard, J., Middleton, E. L., & Schwartz, M. F. (2017). The timing of spontaneous detection and repair of naming errors in aphasia. Cortex, 93, 79-91. PMC5536244



Middleton, E. L., Schwartz, M. F., Rawson, K. A., Traut, H., & Verkuilen, J. (2016). Towards a theory of learning for naming rehabilitation: Retrieval practice and spacing effects. Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research, 59, 1111-1122. PMC5345556


Schwartz, M. F., Middleton, E. L., Brecher, A., Gagliardi, M., & Garvey, K. (2016). Does naming accuracy improve through self-monitoring of errors? Neuropsychologia, 84, 272-281. PMC4826482



Middleton, E. L., Schwartz, M. F., Rawson, K. A., & Garvey, K. (2015). Test-enhanced learning versus errorless learning in aphasia rehabilitation: Testing competing psychological principles. Journal of Experimental Psychology: Learning, Memory, and Cognition, 41(4), 1253-1261. PMC4476962

Middleton, E. L., Chen, Q., & Verkuilen, J. (2015). Friends and foes in the lexicon: Homophone naming in aphasia. Journal of Experimental Psychology: Learning, Memory, and Cognition, 41(1), 77-94. PMC4293245



Middleton, E. L., & Schwartz, M. F. (2013). Learning to fail in aphasia: An investigation of error learning in naming. Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research, 56(4), 1287-1297. PMC3781174

Lee, C., Middleton, E., Mirman, D., Kalénine, S., & Buxbaum, L. (2013). Incidental and context-responsive activation of structure- and function-based action features during object identification. Journal of Experimental Psychology: Human Perception and Performance, 39(1), 257-270. PMC3371276



Middleton, E. L., & Schwartz, M. F. (2012). Errorless learning in cognitive rehabilitation: A critical review. Neuropsychological Rehabilitation, 22(2), 138-168. PMC3381647

Kalenine, S., Mirman, D., Middleton, E., & Buxbaum, L. (2012). Temporal dynamics of activation of thematic and functional knowledge during conceptual processing of manipulable artifacts. Journal of Experimental Psychology: Learning, Memory and Cognition. 38(5), 1274-1295. PMC3537173


Select Papers Prior to 2012

Middleton, E. L., Rawson, K., & Wisniewski, E. J. (2011). How do we process novel conceptual combinations in text? Quarterly Journal of Experimental Psychology. 64(4), 807-822. PMID:21104564

Middleton, E. L., & Schwartz, M. F. (2010). Density pervades: An analysis of phonological neighborhood density effects in aphasic speakers with different types of naming impairment. Cognitive Neuropsychology, 27(5), 401-427. PMC3132149

Rawson, K. A., & Middleton, E. L. (2009). Memory-based processing as a mechanism of automaticity in text comprehension.  Journal of Experimental Psychology: Learning, Memory and Cognition. 35(2), 353-370. PMID:19271851

Dunlosky, J., Rawson, K., & Middleton, E. L. (2005). What constrains the accuracy of metacomprehension judgments? Testing the transfer appropriate monitoring and accessibility hypotheses. Journal of Memory and Language, 52, 551-565.

Middleton, E. L., & Wisniewski, E. J., & Trindel, K., & Imai, M. (2004). Separating the chaff from the oats: Evidence for a conceptual distinction between count noun and mass noun aggregates.  Journal of Memory and Language, 50(4), 371-394.