Communication Sciences and Disorders
Current Research Overview
The BGSU Department of Communication Sciences and Disorders is housed within the Health Center Building. Research facilities include a language lab, stroboscopy lab, voice production lab, acoustics lab, aero-acoustics lab, and a speech physiology lab, in addition to clinical spaces that can be used for research purposes.
We have dedicated teaching laboratories, intended to infuse science and technology throughout the undergraduate and graduate curriculum. The teaching laboratories are also used for research training, and undergraduate and graduate level laboratory sessions. This space is used by students and faculty for research projects and seminar classes. The room is equipped with acoustic analysis stations, two Nasometers, a Palatometer, a respitrace, a spirometer, and various anatomical models.
There are four soundproof booths that can be used for data collection in sound isolated environments.
The following is an overview of lines of research in progress in the Department of Communication Sciences and Disorders. For more information on any particular line of research, please follow the links to faculty members' pages.
Aphasia Awareness in Health Care Settings
Despite the prevalence of aphasia in the United States, a common perception among speech-language pathologists is that awareness of this disorder is surprisingly low in various healthcare settings. This perceived lack of awareness is thought to lead to delays in implementing appropriate intervention for these patients. This line of research is investigating the awareness of aphasia and its characteristics at different levels of health care. After establishing a baseline level of knowledge in each setting, brief aphasia training sessions will be conducted at each of the participating settings to determine if increasing aphasia awareness in these settings changes the approach to patient care. Researcher: Ellyn Riley
Assessment Practices: A Survey of Speech-Language Pathologists in Ohio
The number of school-age Spanish-speaking children in Ohio has increased steadily over the past two decades. This increase has implications for assessment practices used by Speech-Language Pathologists who work with children in this group. Research indicates that over- or underestimation of skills, and/or over- or under identification of disorders may be consequences of specific practices used to assess non-English speakers. This research aims to determine assessment practices used by speech-language pathologists in Ohio when assessing English language learners. This project was developed with CDIS undergraduate student researchers. Researcher: Virginia Dubasik
Autism Spectrum Disorders Research
Three projects are currently under way. Each is described below. Doctoral, master’s, and undergraduate students are working with Lynne Hewitt on all of these projects.
- Evidence-based practice in the assessment of language and communication in autism spectrum disorder. In this project, a critical review of the literature is being conducted to determine what information is available to guide assessment of language in this population. Because of the unique challenges facing individuals with ASD, language sample analysis and formal testing are subject to threats to validity. This project seeks to determine what guidance might be available for selecting the best evidence-based approaches to assessment.
- Language sample analysis of parent-child book-reading experiences. This project seeks to uncover patterns of interaction that may differ between preschool children with ASD and typically developing children. Of interest is the amount and type of language used that references the book being read, the amount of time spent in joint attention on the book, and the means by which parents seek to engage their preschoolers in book reading experiences.
- Perspectives of speech-language pathologists and adults with ASD on social communication. In this study, we are interviewing clinicians and adults with ASD about their respective viewpoints on social communication challenges faced by people on the spectrum, and the type and quality of services available to support individuals with ASD in the area of social communication. The goal is to better understand the state of services available and gain insight into what the needs are for training of clinicians and support of persons on the spectrum.
Infant Cry Analysis
Comparisons have been made between full-term and pre-term infant cries, to infer, from the acoustic signal, if there are any neurological differences between the infants. Work has been recently published examining an infant with laryngomalacia as well as other healthy infants. Current research is examining the effect of positioning on healthy infants, as an attempt to examine possible risk factors for Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS). Researcher: Alexander Goberman.
Dual Language Development in Preschool
Spanish-speaking children learning English as a second language comprise the largest growing group of Dual Language Learners (DLLs) served in Head Start programs in the United States. Increasing number of DLLs has challenged educational institutions to reexamine the supports in place for meeting the unique needs of this group. This line of research addresses the need for normative developmental data for young Spanish-speaking children learning English during early school experiences and will contribute to the Head Start knowledge base and extend bilingual and second language acquisition research by providing rich descriptive information regarding bilingual language development. The research questions being addressed include (a) What are the phonological, lexical and morpho-syntactic patterns of 3-year-old Spanish-English dual language learners (b) To what extent do primary and second language support within classroom contexts predict English phonological, lexical, morpho-syntactic acquisition in 3-year-old dual language learners, and (c) Is there a relation between the overall proportion of teaching staff’s primary and second language use, and Spanish and English child outcomes (phonological, lexical, morpho-syntactic) in three-year-old dual language learners? Researcher: Virginia Dubasik
Naturalistic Language Assessment and Intervention for Children with Autism
Assessment studies focus on examining videos of naturalistic interactions of children, peers and adults to describe patterns of communicative success and failure. A primary emphasis involves qualitative investigation of pragmatic language variables, especially spontaneous communicative attempts. Intervention studies follow up in this area using single subject experimental and descriptive designs to establish effectiveness of naturalistic approaches to language intervention for children with autism. Videotapes of children’s language are collected to establish baseline, and then a particular area is selected for intervention. Videos of intervention are collected and transcribed to track progress. Two areas of particular theoretical significance investigated in these projects are joint attention and commenting, seen as keys to communicative competence in persons with autism. Researcher: Lynne Hewitt.
New Word Learning: Acquisition and Initial Representations
Young children are amazing in their abilities to learn new words that they overhear in adult speech. They are are really good at doing this with nouns and descriptive words. However, verbs appear to be more difficult. This program of research is designed to compare the abilities of children at different ages to learn new verbs from incidental exposure. We are also interested in determining the initial representations that children form when learning new verbs and how those compare to adult representations. Researcher: Tim Brackenbury.
Normal Speech Variability
Normal speech within and across talkers is highly variable acoustically. Researchers are actively investigating the nature of this variability and how listeners deal with it. One line of research is to examine intra- and inter-day changes in normal speech production across a range of ages, in addition to the effect of anxiety on speech in a variety of situations (Researcher: Alexander Goberman).
Parkinsonian Speech and Voice Analysis
This line of research is aimed at determining the effect of dopamine on speech function. Specifically, the effect of dopamine changes on speech production is being examined in patients with Parkinson Disease (PD). Work is in progress to determine the relationship between non-speech motor variability and speech variability in PD, in addition to examinations into factors affecting variability of Parkinsonian speech. Researcher: Alexander Goberman. (See Parkinson Disease Research Page)
Psycholinguistic investigation of early word knowledge
Children understand relationships between many words, long before they can adequately describe how concepts are linked linguistically. This line of research is currently developing a new methodology for assessing preschool word knowledge using children’s online processing of information. This methodology, called semantic priming, has been used effectively to assess word knowledge with older children and adults, but has yet to be proven successful with young children. Researcher: Tim Brackenbury
Psychosocial Aspects of Child Speech and Language Impairment
I am interested in the link between communication disorders in children and social deficits. Research suggests that many speech and language impaired children have fewer friendships and poorer social skills than age-matched classmates In addition, they report less satisfaction with the peer relationships they do have and are often less respected than their classmates with normal speech and language. My research is designed to explore these social deficits with an ultimate goal of evolving treatment procedures for the reduction of negative social outcomes. Researcher: Elizabeth Burroughs
Quality of Life Issues in Children's Communication Disorders
I am planning research that will look at the extent to which impaired communication in children is associated with reduced quality of life. Current theory suggests that self esteem is a potential index of quality of life in children. I will be determining the relationship between communicative competence and self esteem. Ultimately, I would like to evolve a means of assessing treatment efficacy in terms of improved quality of life. Researcher: Elizabeth Burroughs
The Role of Phonological Complexity in Language Treatment
Previous studies have demonstrated that training more linguistically complex targets can lead to generalization to linguistically related, simpler targets without explicit training. Based on this previous work, this line of research is examining variables of speech sound complexity as an application to reading treatment for individuals with reading disorders due to stroke as well as other populations who may benefit from this treatment approach. Researcher: Ellyn Riley
Speech and Language Acquisition by Bilingual and Monolingual Children with and without Listening Devices
This project is a collaborative effort with Dr. Ferenc Bunta at the University of Houston. Our current understanding of speech and language development in bilingual children with cochlear implants and hearing aids is very limited. Yet, the number of bilingual individuals with cochlear implants and hearing aids is rapidly increasing with Hispanic children in the United States displaying a higher prevalence of hearing loss than the general population. Recently, studies have been conducted on general aspects of language development of bilingual children with cochlear implants but there are virtually no students on phonological development and specific aspects of linguistic development in bilingual children with listening devices. This innovative study aims to reveal how hearing impairment and bilingualism interact in children with cochlear implants and/or hearing aids, and has the potential to positively impact the lives of children with listening devices. Researcher: Virginia Dubasik
Teacher Use of Complex Syntax in Head Start Classrooms
Research suggests that exposure to high-quality language-rich experiences in preschool is essential for children who are at-risk of poor language outcomes. High-quality preschool learning environments are shown to have positive effects on children’s academic readiness and language and literacy skills. This line of research explores teachers’ use of complex syntax in Head Start classrooms and expands upon work by Dunn Davison et al. (2012) who examined preschool teachers’ production of complex syntax and found that less than 25% of all utterances recorded included complex syntax. Researcher: Virginia Dubasik