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
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.
Clinical training issues in speech-language pathology
Clinical education is a cornerstone experience in the development of knowledgeable and effective speech-language pathologists in all graduate school programs. Clinical educators have the unique role of providing students with a high-impact educational practice, which compels students to integrate academic knowledge with real-life experiences with clients, families, and community members. This line of research is investigating the perceptions of the effectiveness of clinical education in speech-language pathology from the vantage point of graduate students and clinical educators. This study specifically addresses clinical supervision support through the knowledge and skills guidelines provided by the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association. Researchers: Emily Rusnak, Elizabeth Burroughs, and Scott Palasik (University of Southern Mississippi)
Coordinators and Other Personnel Involved in Disability Services for Students: Perspectives on College Students with Learning Disabilities
This project is a collaborative effort with Dr. Kenn Apel, Professor and Director in the School of Communication Science and Disorders at The Florida State University, and Dr. Robert Cunningham, Director of Disability Services for Students at Bowling Green State University. For this project we conducted a national survey study that we hoped might support the need for applied research with college students with learning disabilities (and related written language difficulties). The main purpose of this study was to survey individuals who serve as coordinators for students with disabilties on college and university campuses as well as personnel who work in these offices (hereafter referred to as Disability Services for Students (DSS) providers) on their beliefs about college students with LDs. More specifically, we were interested in learning about the extent to which DSS providers felt that students with LDs had the capacity to meet with success in college as well as their thoughts about the factors that might be useful for improving persistence rates among these college students with LDs. With the generous assistance from the Association on Higher Education and Disability (AHEAD), we were able to recruit and collect survey data from a total of 381 DSS providers across the county. We are currently completing analyses of these data. Researcher: Lauren A. Katz
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.
Intervention research addressing environmental risk to child language development
Many children are exposed to a number of different risk factor for development, such as poverty. These risk factors are known to promote less-than-optimal development of language skills across childhood. A vast majority of risk factors for development are directly related to the ways in which parent address language learning in the child’s everyday environment. For speech-language pathologists, there are few preventative or therapeutic resources available which specifically address environmental risk to development. This link of research is investigating the development of a new parent language stimulation program for use with parents of young children who are living in poverty. Researcher: Emily Rusnak
Intervention with Undergraduate and Graduate Students with Reading, Writing, and/or Organizational Difficulties: Is it Too Late?
Although there is research showing that intervention in the area of written language can be effective in college students/adults, the studies are few in number. One of my primary research aims is to recruit our college-student clients, who are receiving therapy through the ROWing Clinic, for participation in research studies that might show that it is not too late to provide or receive therapy services in the area of written language.
During the summer of 2010, in collaboration with one of my graduate students, Brittany Rickard, we studied the impact of language therapy on a 21-year old college student with a significant reading disorder primarily characterized by underlying deficits in orthographic knowledge and awareness. Preliminary findings are very encouraging, and we are continuing to recruit college-student clients for participation in intervention studies. Researcher: Lauren A. Katz.
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).
Oral Vibrotactile Sensation and Perception
Oral sensation and perception are systematically studied using vibration as the stimulus and utilizing various psychophysical procedures. Studies look at instrumentation, procedural, and subject variables on the oral tactile sensory system at both threshold and suprathreshold levels. Changes in lingual sensory thresholds are documented as a function of gender, age, and various subject characteristics. Cross-modality studies document the role and importance of the integrity of the feedback systems in speech production. Modality interruption studies are investigating the importance of various modalities on speech production. Studies are also being conducted on the status of the oral sensory system in individuals with various speech disorders. Researcher: Linda Petrosino.
Parkinsonian Speech 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)
Profiles of Undergraduate and Graduate Students with Reading, Writing, and/or Organizational Difficulties.
Just before opening the ROWing Clinic in the fall of 2009, I sought approval from HSRB to recruit college-student clients seeking assessments through the clinic so that I could begin to create profiles of these students by way of their formal and informal test data. There is little written about the oral and written language skills of college students who are struggling in these areas. Therefore, through this on-going project, I hope to gain a greater understanding of the specific (underlying) difficulties impacting college students’ reading, writing, and/or organizational skills. With a better understanding of these underlying weaknesses, I can further explore the effectiveness of interventions that might offer these students opportunities for improving their reading, writing, and/or organizational skills. This project is still underway, and at this point, 9 college-student clients have provided consent to use their data for this study. Researcher: Lauren A. Katz.
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. Researchers: Tim Brackenbury and Emily Rusnak
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
Syntactic Comprehension and Its Relationship to Reading Comprehension in Typical College Students
With an eye toward studying intervention in the area of reading comprehension with this college-student population, I began to consider identification and treatment of underlying language difficulties that might be impacting one’s ability to comprehend college-level texts. I was particularly struck by an article I had read in the April 2009 issue of Language, Speech, and Hearing Services in the Schools by Dr. Cheryl Scott. She wrote about the impact of sentence complexity on reading comprehension for struggling readers. This article resonated with me, as I had seen many adolescents struggle with making sense of the meaning of sentences – never mind paragraphs and larger pieces of text. So from 2009-2010, several of my research assistants (Alison Farinaccio, Victoria Gora, Sophia Guarracino, Jaime Hannan, Amy Lagzdins, Valerie Martin, Brittany Rickard, and Rebecca Spencer) and I developed and conducted a study that would allow us to explore the relationship of syntactic comprehension and reading comprehension in typical college students. We are currently completing data analyses and will likely move toward examining this relationship in college students with reading disorders. Researcher: Lauren A. Katz
Teaching about and Targeting Linguistic and Metacognitive Components of Reading Comprehension: An Intervention for College Students with Learning Disabilities
I have been interested in developing a larger-scale intervention program (for college students with written language disorders) that would be offered as a for-credit course through BGSU. Through many research and clinical experiences, I have recognized the potential for being able to carry out targeted therapy, wherein attendance would be mandatory (class attendance), and the pressure to ‘tutor’ students through completion of assignments would not be a temptation. Moreover, I have envisioned coupling the ‘lecture’ time with one-on-one ‘lab’ time (i.e., more individualized language therapy with a graduate student in the ROWing Clinic). Development of this project is currently underway. Researcher: Lauren A. Katz