Effective evidence-based clinical practice in the communication sciences and other health professions requires several stages of development from basic science to clinical practice. First, clinical research that generates diagnostic and treatment approaches depends on a sound theoretical foundation. The rehabilitation methods that are generated in clinical research then need to be further translated to a form that facilitates effective implementation in clinical or school settings. The process of knowledge translation to clinical practice faces several challenges, the most obvious of which is the practical differences between laboratory settings where interventions are developed and clinical settings where they are implemented. This conference addresses two other challenges to achieving true evidence based practice: (1) education of clinical practitioners about advances in theoretically and empirically supported rehabilitation methods and (2) communication between researchers and clinical practitioners to better effect implementation of clinical research into practice. For eleven years, the Eleanor M. Saffran Conference on the Cognitive Neuroscience and Rehabilitation of Communication Disorders has provided a forum in which researchers in basic and applied patient-oriented research, clinical practitioners, academic faculty and students with a common interest in language and other cognitive disorders can share knowledge and skills on each side of the translational ?gap?. This annual two-day conference focuses on a single topic relating to a specific language disorder (e.g., sentence processing disorders) or to a more general topic in rehabilitation research (e.g., outcome measures). The first day includes platform papers on current theories and practices emerging from rehabilitation research. The day includes ample time for discussion between the presenters and the audience which includes speech/language pathologists, neuropsychologists, psychologists, neurologists, linguists and students from these various disciplines, who share a common interest in cognitive neuroscience of communication disorders and their rehabilitation. The second day is a workshop that provides a forum for clinicians and researchers to address the practical considerations involved in translating laboratory developed diagnostic and treatment protocols to clinical practice. This component of the conference is unique and provides a real opportunity for researchers and clinicians to participate together in the translation/implementation process. A third important challenge of this conference is to fulfill its mission to extend the educational opportunities that this conference provides to students. We address this challenge in two ways. First, students at all academic levels (undergraduate to post-doctoral) can attend the conference for free. Second, there are ten competitive student scholar travel awards given to students at the doctoral or post-doctoral level. The award includes travel, accommodations, hotel, and a chance to present their research in a poster session on the first day of the conference. This program has been proved to be enormously successful, with awardees coming from across the nation and worldwide.
The Eleanor M. Saffran Conference on Cognitive Neuroscience and Rehabilitation of Communication Disorders brings together patient-oriented researchers, teachers, students and clinicians for an exchange of ideas that will promote translation of basic and clinical research in communications disorders to rehabilitation practices in the clinic or school settings.