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Research

Aging and Adult Language Disorders Lab - Gerasimos Fergadiotis, Ph.D.

The Aging and Adult Language Disorders Lab pursues research in the area of acquired neurogenic language disorders with an emphasis on psychometrics. Our long-term goal is to enable clinicians and researchers to assess key linguistic abilities in people with aphasia by developing precise and efficient measurement tools. Much of our research involves the use of latent variable modeling including item response theory, which is a framework for understanding how patients respond to tests as a function of the their ability level and the characteristics of the each test item. To build tests that maximize diagnostic information with minimum testing burden, we apply novel technological approaches that allow us to build “smart” tests that adapt to the ability level of the patient. Our work to develop a computer adaptive test for the assessment of word retrieval skills in aphasia is currently funded by the National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders.  In addition, the lab coordinates the Northwest Aphasia Registry and Repository (NWR&R) in collaboration with the University of Washington Aphasia Lab. The NWR&R connects people with aphasia to aphasia research at UW and PSU, as well as other opportunities including the activities offered by the Aphasia Network, a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization supporting people with aphasia in Pacific Northwest.

Autism and Child Language Disorders Lab - Amy Donaldson, Ph.D.

The Autism and Child Language Disorders Laboratory (ACLD) in the Department of Speech & Hearing Sciences is committed to conducting clinical research to investigate the use of communication within social contexts and the influence of context on performance.  Our research focuses on assessment and intervention of the social communication skills of children with autism spectrum disorders (ASD).  We are particularly interested in examining social interaction and reciprocity, as well as intervention efficacy and pre- and post-professional training.  To this end, we partner with colleagues across disciplines, including psychology, behavior analysis, special education, occupational therapy, and social work to investigate the effects of social communication interventions for young children with ASD. 

Autism is a neurodevelopmental disorder with the potential to impact social, communication, cognitive, motor, and adaptive skills. Given the complex nature of autism and the lifelong challenges experienced by many individuals with ASD, research and clinical training must be interdisciplinary and comprehensive.  The ACLD is driven by a core belief in a strengths-based approach to serving individuals with ASD and a respect for neurodiversity. Our approach to research is driven by our partnership with the autism community and the priorities set by that community. As such, the Chair of the ACLD Advisory Board is an autistic adult and mother of children with ASD, as well as an autism advocate. Community engagement that reflects true partnership is our ongoing goal.

Bilingual Language Research Lab - Maria Kapantzoglou, Ph.D.

Research in the Bilingual Research Lab focuses on how dual language learners develop language and how they differ from peers with language impairment. Our general objective is to improve clinical practices for dual language learners bridging our knowledge from the current literature with the needs and perspectives of the speech-language pathologists in the community.

Our main line of research is directed toward developing assessment tasks with robust psychometric properties that yield high diagnostic accuracy of language impairment for dual language learners in preschool and early elementary. To this end, we employ advanced statistical approaches including latent profile analysis and structural equation modeling to answer the following questions:  What are the language ability profiles (i.e. strengths and weaknesses) in dual language learners? How can we accurately measure the level of language abilities (i.e., vocabulary, grammar and syntax) in dual language learners? How may the method of assessment influence clinical decision-making? What are the psychometric properties of current measures? How can we maximize the information we obtain about the children’s language abilities from various methods of assessment? Our projects are related to language sample analysis, dynamic assessment, standardized norm-referenced standardized tests, and parent questionnaires.

Child Language Learning Center - Carolyn Quam, Ph.D.

In the Child Language Learning Center (CLLC), we study language acquisition, bilingualism in children and adults, and the memory and learning systems that support language. The CLLC is currently funded by a grant from the National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders. The aim of our grant is to translate insights from typical language development to develop innovative approaches for studying child and adult learners who are struggling with language and adults learning second languages. Dr. Quam’s work on typical language development in infants and preschoolers has found that children are surprisingly willing to pay attention to a variety of sound dimensions when they are learning words and sounds—even dimensions that are not used to differentiate words in their language. On one hand, this unconstrained attention indicates that children are still figuring out the sounds of their native language. On the other hand, it may reflect flexibility that is actually a crucial aspect of young learners, in that it allows them to learn new language structure. We are using this insight as a lens for understanding learning rigidity in children and adults with language-learning difficulties, as well as in adults learning second languages.

Neurolinguistics Lab - Sarah Key-Delyria, Ph.D.

The Neurolinguistics Lab examines the relationships between cognition and linguistic processing following brain injury using behavioral and electrophysiological (ERP/EEG) methodologies. The lab is interested in clarifying with ways in which cognitive processes such as memory and executive functioning (i.e. controlling cognition) shape how we process and organize language. Exploring these relationships in individuals with a history of brain injury such as stroke or traumatic brain injury (TBI) provides a way to test theories about how neural systems support language and cognition. These investigations seek to be useful to assessment and rehabilitation by improving the knowledge base of clinically relevant linguistic and cognitive behaviors. Current projects in the lab are motivated by the following questions: How does syntactic processing interact with cognition? Do individuals with TBI, including concussion, and disrupted conflict resolution show impairments in sentence processing when using behavioral tests or looking at ERPs (e.g. P600, N400)? Is auditory sentence processing disrupted by noisy listening conditions in individuals with TBI history? Are bilinguals with TBI history better at processing auditory sentences in noise than monolinguals with TBI history? Are statistical learning mechanisms shared between artificial and natural language learning? What does statistical learning look like over time in aphasia? Can a specific artificial grammar learning task be modified to provide useful clinical assessment information? Is there a difference between implicit and explicit learning in aphasia?

Speech Development in Bilingual and Monolingual Children Lab - Christina Gildersleeve-Neumann, Ph.D.

The Speech Development in Bilingual and Monolingual Children Lab explores speech development and disorder in preschool- and school-aged children, focusing on typical and atypical children from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds, assessment and intervention for speech sound disorder in bilingual children, and intervention for childhood apraxia of speech (CAS). The following questions drive research in this lab: What does development of a bilingual phonological system look like, and why?  How does bilingual speech development differ from monolingual speech development? How can cross-linguistic and bilingual studies help us understand which aspects of production are driven by a phonological representation and which are driven by the development of articulatory skills and speech motor control? How does one differentiate typical from atypical development in assessment of speech of bilingual children? What methods of treatment are best for speech sound disorders: in bilingual children, in children from different cultural and linguistic backgrounds, and in children diagnosed with CAS?  Current research projects include treatment efficacy studies of motor-based treatment for childhood apraxia of speech and the development of a speech screener for Spanish-English bilingual preschool-aged children. Dr. Gildersleeve-Neumann is also coauthoring a phonetics textbook for clinical scientists.

Speech, Swallowing and Respiration Lab - Deanna Britton, Ph.D.

The primary mission of the Speech, Swallowing and Respiration Lab in is to engage in research aimed at improving functional speech and swallowing in individuals with respiratory and/or bulbar impairments.  The research is generally focused on learning more about how respiratory impairments impact bulbar function, i.e., muscles for speech and swallowing, and vice-versa, i.e., how bulbar impairments can affect airflow, in order to further develop effective and efficient assessment and interventions methods for individuals with these impairments.  Currently, the lab is focused on 2 projects:  (1) Examination of the utility of cough-related airflow measures in determining laryngeal impairment and risk for aspiration in neurologic populations, and (2) Examination of the impact of non-invasive positive pressure ventilation (NPPV) on speech and swallowing.  These studies involve collaborations with colleagues at the Northwest Center for Voice and Swallowing (NWCVS) in the Department of Otolaryngology – Head & Neck Surgery at Oregon Health & Sciences University (OHSU), Departments of Rehabilitation Medicine, Pulmonary and Critical Care Medicine and Otolaryngology – Head and Neck Surgery at the University of Washington Medical Center, and the Department of Speech and Hearing Sciences at the University of Arizona.

Stuttering Lab - Megann McGill, Ph.D.

The PSU Stuttering Lab investigates theoretical and practical topics related to stuttering across the lifespan. Specifically, our research is focused on 1) the contribution of linguistic factors (i.e., phonological working memory, lexical access) to the development and persistence of child onset fluency disorders and 2) the effectiveness of novel stuttering evaluation and treatment methodologies for monolingual and bilingual persons who stutter. Current theoretically driven projects include exploring the relationship between phonological working memory and stuttered speech using nonvocal nonword matching paradigms and examining the performance of children and adults who do and do not stutter on a novel nonword repetition and phoneme elision task. Projects related to best practices for assessment and treatment of persons who stutter currently include examining the use of self-disclosure statements and targeting communication effectiveness in children and adults who stutter. The Stuttering Lab collaborates with the Michael and Tami Lang Stuttering Institute at The University of Texas at Austin as well as certified speech-language pathologists who specialize in treating persons who stutter in Portland and across the country.