Dr Jen Chesters, Senior Research Associate

Speech and Language Therapist and Neuroscientist

I am a Senior Research Associate in the BSLTRU, and a Speech and Language Therapist and Neuroscientist by background. I completed a Psychology degree at the University of St. Andrews, where I developed an interest in the neural basis of communication. I went on to qualify as an SLT in 2008, through the Speech and Language Sciences MSc course at UCL. I have worked as a Speech and Language Therapist in Learning Disability, Forensic Mental Health and Dysfluency services.

I completed my DPhil (PhD) research in 2016, at the Experimental Psychology Department and Wellcome Centre for Integrative Neuroscience, University of Oxford, supervised by Prof. Kate Watkins and Dr. Riikka Möttönen. My project, which was funded by an MRC Clinical Research Training Fellowship, investigated the use of a non-invasive method for stimulating the brain (transcranial direct current stimulation, or tDCS for short) to promote speech fluency. My PhD included the first randomised controlled trial of tDCS with adults who stutter, and I continued to work with Prof Watkins as a Postdoctoral Research Associate, on a larger study where we further investigated the neural basis of stuttering using a range of brain imaging and stimulation techniques. 

I am generally interested in how our brains are organised to produce and perceive speech and language, and how applying this knowledge could improve speech and language interventions. I have a particular interest in speech motor control, and how sensory information is integrated to support this control process. 

Current Research

I joined the BSLTRU in November 2020 where I mainly work on the Language Explorer clinical evaluation study, which tests the feasibility of an app for assessing Developmental Language Disorder in children. I also led our study on the impact of living through the COVID-19 pandemic on the lives of people who stammer. I continue to work on research about the brain processes underlying our speech abilities, with a particular interest in stammering and cleft palate.


Recent publications

Chesters, J., Mottonen, R. and Watkins, K., (2022). Neural changes related to successful stutter reduction using transcranial direct current stimulation. OSF Preprint.

Cler, G.C., Krishnan, S., Papp, D., Wiltshire C.E.E., Chesters, J., and Watkins, K.E. (2021). Quantitative mapping in developmental stuttering reveals elevated iron concentration in the putamen and cortical speech motor network. Brain, Volume 144, Issue 1

Wiltshire, C.E.E., Chiew, M., Chesters, J., Healy, M.P, and Watkins, K.E. (2021). Speech movement variability in people who stutter: A vocal tract MRI study. Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research, Volume 64, Issue 7, 2438-2452.

Linked profile of academic output: