Clinical Neuropsychology Research Group (EKN)

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Functional predictors for communicative and participatory aspects in speech sound disorders (apraxia of speech, aphasic phonological disorders)

Dr. Ingrid Aichert
Funding: Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (DFG), AI 196/1-1

Project description
In the field of aphasiology, research interests increasingly focus on the consequences of aphasia on communication in daily life. In contrast, studies on sound production impairments (apraxia of speech, aphasic-phonological disorders) still primarily focus on impairment-based discussions of the phonetic and phonological symptoms and their underlying mechanisms. This project aims to close this research gap by building a bridge between functional aspects on the one hand and aspects of activity and participation on the other hand. The understanding of relations between these different domains also aim to contribute to a more efficient rehabilitation process. Here, the foundation of communicative difficulties of aphasic patients during everyday activity is mainly considered as consequences of the perception of the speech by the environment, especially by the conversation partners. Impacts on the patients’ participation in social and professional life will only serve as a criterion for validating the judgments of the environment.

The overarching goal of the proposed project is to describe the immediate as well as the indirect consequences of the linguistic symptoms (confined to patients with sound production impairments) on the perception of laypersons, who are treated as potential conversation partners. The following subgoals will be pursued:

(1) New methods to investigate communication-related parameters based on the perception of laypersons will be developed and evaluated. On the one hand, the immediate aspects of the perceived utterances are assessed (“proximal level of perception”). These aspects include primarily intelligibility assessments, but also naturalness ratings and the evaluation of communication efficiency scores. On the other hand, attributions and ascriptions, which are implicitly derived from the form of the speech output will be assessed regarding to the domains “cognition and language”, “emotion and behavior” and “personality and social life” (“distal level of perception”).

(2) The proximal and distal parameters in laypersons’ perception of aphasic and apraxic speech results from complex interactions of the linguistic and phonetic symptoms evident in the patients’ speech. The study therefore includes a consideration of speech and language symptoms across all functional dimensions of speaking (i.e., articulation, prosody, voice/respiration and lexicon/syntax).

(3) Moreover, the potential specific speech parameters of apraxic speech responsible for the negative perception of these speakers (i.e., particularly the presence of prosodic impairments and symptoms of increased speech effort) will be investigated.