Communication Sciences and Disorders Laboratories

The BGSU Department of Communication Sciences and Disorders is housed within the Health and Human Services 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.

A woman sits inside a booth in front of a computer and a microphone. A woman outside the booth, visible through a window, smiles at the person in the booth.

Understanding the relationships between the speech acoustics, speech perception, and speech kinematics is another primary area of interest in the Motor Speech Lab. This work includes the development of acoustic measures of speech production, as well as the application of these measures to speech impairments in Parkinson disease. The primary goal of this work is to develop sensitive measures of speech production that can be extracted non-invasively and be used to track changes related to treatment. Researcher: Jason Whitfield

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

hree 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.

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.

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

Swallowing disorders commonly occur in people who have suffered a neurogenic injury. Moreover, neurotypicals may display evidence of dysphagia as they age. Currently, speech-language pathologists rely on a limited range of clinical tools when providing services to people with swallowing disorders. In order to address this situation, more rigorous research is required. Firstly, investigations grounded in the latest models of exercise physiology will help SLPs better understand how to address the mechanical disorders of swallowing they encounter in clinical practice. Secondly, qualitative enquiry traditions will help SLPs to develop a clearer picture of how people with dysphagia view their disability, which will in turn empower us to focus on the psychosocial aspects of this disorder. Researcher: Brent Archer

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.

Because both speech and non-speech function are affected in Parkinson disease, it is important to understand the relationship between speech motor system and non-speech motor control, including limb, digit, and manual movements, as well as posture and gait. In the Motor Speech Lab, we examine relationships and interactions between these systems by examining speech and non-speech tasks performed in isolation and under dual-task conditions, when speech and non-speech tasks are performed concurrently. Researcher: Jason Whitfield

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.

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 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).

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

People who survive brain damage (stroke, head injury) may develop aphasia, a language processing disorder which affects communication. Speech-language pathologists are often called upon to provide rehabilitation services to people with aphasia. Current research topics within this area include analysis of some of the variables which impact therapy delivery: which clients benefit most from therapy? Can we accurately predict prognostic outcomes for clients? Which language modalities should SLPs target during therapy? How should psycholinguistic exercise within therapy sessions be structured in order to assure optimal use of resources such as time and funding? How can clinicians use defensible statistical methods to track client performance over time, and demonstrate the efficacy or otherwise of intervention? Researcher: Brent Archer

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

Aside from being a language disorder, aphasia may impact a wide variety of psychosocial constructs such as identity, social integration and quality of life. Socially-oriented aphasiologists seek to develop a better understanding of the long-term experiences of people and families living with aphasia. To generate robust findings germane to this field, scholars often employ qualitative methods of enquiry including interactional phenomenological analysis (IPA), ethnography, Systemic Functional Linguistics and Conversation Analysis (CA). By adopting a holistic perspectives, researchers hope to furnish clinicians and clients with strategies and ideas that may help people with aphasia (re)gain a new, more agentive sense of self. This paradigm views participation in conversation in a variety of contexts as an essential part of the human condition, and therefore attempts to find ways in which people with aphasia can be supported to take part in such conversations, in spite of their linguistic processing deficits. Researcher: Brent Archer

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

In the Motor Speech Lab, we have great interest in understanding the relationship between speech and non-speech motor learning, as the treatment process relies on intact learning processes. During treatment patients and clients must acquire, retain, and be able to automatically produce new speech and language skills. The basal ganglia is a brain region that is critical for motor learning and is a primary region of the brain affected in Parkinson disease. Therefore, it is important to understand how learning is affected in individuals with Parkinson disease so that speech and voice treatment can be optimized for this population. This work examines the early and later learning stages of speech and non-speech motor sequence learning. Researcher: Jason Whitfield

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

Research by ethnographers and anthropologists suggests that we are adept problem solvers and can effectively carry out a wide range of complex tasks because the cognitive load associated with activities are distributed amongst human actors and external devices. By applying the results and methods developed during systematic, real-world based studies of human cognition to clinical disorders such as Alzheimer’s disease and other amnestic deficits, therapists may gain useful insights into embedded intervention approaches that will empower clients to live with greater independence. Researcher: Brent Archer

There are various lines of active research in both voice laboratories on campus. Current voice research focuses on methodologies, singing, whisper, various phonation aspects, and physical and computer modeling. The voice laboratory has active collaborations with the music and physics and astronomy departments at Bowling Green State University. In addition, the voice laboratory has collaborations with researchers outside the BGSU community. Researcher: Ronald Scherer