LRCL Current Research

Speed-accuracy tradeoffs and adaptation deficits in aphasia. People with aphasia (PWA) can experience large changes in their language abilities. Some PWA adapt well to these changes, while others do not, which can exacerbate their language deficits, or even create new maladaptive symptoms and behaviors. For example, when it comes to language processing speed, some PWA tend to respond impulsively, increasing the number of errors they make, while others tend to be overly conservation, spending much long than is necessary or helpful. In joint work with the Pittsburgh VA (PI: Evans), we are currently working on addressing this form of adaptation deficit by developing a new adaptive computer-based aphasia naming game designed help PWA more optimally balance the speed and accuracy of their performance during therapy. We predict that this will lead to improved treatment dosage and possibly generalize to functional communication.

We're currently recruiting for this study. View our Pitt+me page if you would like to learn more.

Strategy Training for People with Aphasia. Following stroke, many individuals present with both cognitive and language deficits. Research has shown that meta-cognitive strategy training can help stroke survivors compensate for cognitive deficits and improve functioning in activities of daily living. However, these techniques tend to rely heavily on language function, which can make them difficult for PWA to learn and employ independently. In joint work with colleagues from the Pitt Department of Occupational Therapy and UPMC (PI: Skidmore), we are working to pilot a modified meta-cognitive strategy training approach for PWA that incorporates supported communication techniques. 

Dosage and Predictors of Naming Treatment Response in Aphasia. While semantically-oriented treatments have been shown to be effective for improving language function in aphasia, there is a great deal of variability in how individual PWA may respond to a given treatment. In joint work with the Pittsburgh VA (PIs: Dickey, Hula, and Doyle), we are working to identify neural, cognitive, and psycholinguistic factors that predict these differences in treatment outcome. As part of this project, work in our lab has focused on meta-analyses of existing case study work in the literature, and on analyzing how the type of semantic information (semantic features) activated during treatment affects treatment outcome. 

Aphasia Research Registry on Pitt+Me: If you are a person with aphasia or caregiver and interested in learning more about our current and future research studies at the VA Pittsburgh Healthcare System, you can find out more information here