SLHS Weekly Seminar

2021-2022 Talks

Mondays, 12:30-1:30 PM (EST) in LYLE 1160

October 4, 2021

M. D. Steer Distinguished Lecture Series

Title: Characterizing and Classifying Individuals with Vocal Tremor (VT)…and Other Shaky Topics

Speaker: Julie Barkmeier-Kraemer, PhD, CCC-SLP, University of Utah

Abstract: Tremor is one of the most common movement disorders in the world affecting ~5% of those 60 years of age and older. Approximately 1/3 of those with tremor are estimated to exhibit vocal tremor (VT). VT can occur in isolation, or may co-occur with other neurologic disorders such as essential tremor, dystonia, or Parkinson’s disease. Frequently, severe VT is clinically misclassified as spasmodic dysphonia, more recently referred to as laryngeal dystonia (LD). Improved systematic characterization of VT clinical features is needed for reliable classification and optimal treatment planning. Importantly, greater precision in VT classification would advance insights regarding neural pathways of tremor affecting the limbs versus speech structures potentially leading to development of future novel treatment targets. This presentation will summarize recommended clinical approaches for characterizing and classifying tremor affecting the speech structures.  

September 27, 2021

Title: Research with Clinical Populations: RCR Considerations

Speaker: Jessica E. Huber, PhD, Professor in SLHS

Abstract: We will discuss how to apply the Principles of Good Clinical Practice to clinical research, from the planning stage, through recruitment and retention, consent, and trial management. We will discuss reporting of adverse events and declarations of conflict of interest. Attendees are encouraged to share issues they face in their clinical research and to participate in the discussion of management of clinical research to ensure responsible conduct of clinical research.

September 20, 2021

Speaker: Beth Strickland, PhD, CCC-A, Professor in SLHS

Title: Behavioral measures of cochlear gain and gain reduction in listeners with normal hearing or minimal cochlear hearing loss

Abstract: An important aspect of many sensory systems is the ability to adjust the dynamic range in response to the environment so that changes are detectable. In the auditory system, physiological measures have shown that the medial olivocochlear reflex (MOCR) shifts the dynamic range of the cochlear active process in response to sound. However, the perceptual effects of the MOCR are not fully understood. We have developed behavioral techniques to measure changes in perception in response to preceding sound. These measures suggest a reduction in the amplification, or gain, of the cochlea following sound, which could be consistent with the action of the MOCR. A study in progress in the Psychoacoustics Lab examines the relationship between cochlear hearing impairment and gain reduction. If gain is permanently reduced by cochlear hearing impairment, we might expect to see less gain reduction, meaning less adjustment to the environment.  We’ll examine whether this happens, and also look at the strength of gain reduction across audiometric frequencies.  

View the talk here

September 13, 2021

Speaker: François Deloche, Postdoctoral Fellow in SLHS

Title: A deep learning model for the investigation of speech rhythm

Abstract: Languages have long been described according to their perceived rhythmic attributes. The associated typologies (in particular, the dichotomy between syllable- and stress-timed languages) are of interest in psycholinguistics as they partly predict the abilities of newborns to discriminate between languages. However, temporal regularities in speech are complex and arise from a variety of factors, explaining why a quantitative account of speech rhythm is still largely missing. In this talk, I will argue that deep learning models, by competing with human abilities to recognize complex patterns in naturalistic signals, could lead to breakthroughs in characterizing the acoustic bases of speech rhythm perception. I will present a newly developed recurrent neural network trained for a language identification task over a large database of speech recordings in 21 languages. The specificity of the task was that only the amplitude envelopes of the speech signals, with and without a pre-emphasis on high frequencies, were provided to the model. The underlying assumption is that the transformed signal poorly conveys phonetic information but preserves prosodic features.  The network demonstrated good discrimination abilities, by identifying the language of 10-second recordings in half the cases. Using visualization methods, I will show that the representation underlying the network activations is consistent with speech rhythm typologies. The results will lead to a discussion on the pros and cons of using deep neural networks for the investigation of speech rhythm perception, in comparison with rhythm metrics, the quantitative tool used to date.

View the talk here

September 6, 2021 - No Seminar (Labor Day)

August 30, 2021

Speaker: Hari Bharadwaj, PhD, Assistant Professor in SLHS and Biomedical Engineering

Title: Web-based Psychoacoustics: Hearing Screening, Infrastructure, and Validation

Abstract: Anonymous web-based experiments are increasingly and successfully used in many domains of behavioral research. Web-based platforms offer unique advantages in allowing researchers to perform large-N studies, access diverse and representative subject pools, perform cross-cultural research, and serve populations that may otherwise be unable to participate by visiting laboratory facilities. However, online studies of auditory perception, especially of psychoacoustic phenomena pertaining to low-level sensory processing, are challenging because of limited available control of the acoustics, and the unknown hearing status of participants. Here, we outline our approach to mitigate these challenges and validate our procedures by comparing web-based measurements to lab-based data on a range of classic psychoacoustic tasks.

August 23, 2021

Speaker:  Allison Schaser, PhD, CCC-SLP, Assistant Professor in SLHS

Title: Tracking extra-striatal Parkinsonian pathology and the effect of aggregated synuclein on upper airway function: A Work in Progress

Abstract: As the aging human population continues to grow, neurodegenerative diseases, most common in older adults, pose a significant burden to our healthcare system.  It is critical to uncover the cause of this complex set of diseases to develop disease-modifying treatments and eventual cures.  One leading theory in the field of neuroscience has emerged - that abnormal protein aggregation and spread is the cause of many neurodegenerative diseases. A large subset of these diseases, known as synucleinopathies (i.e., Parkinson's disease and Dementia with Lewy Bodies), result from accumulation, aggregation, and spread of a specific protein, alpha-synuclein. Despite the high prevalence and associated health care costs, there are no disease-modifying therapies aimed at slowing or reversing age-related synucleinopathies. Patients with synucleinopathies receive therapies that treat the manifestations of the disease, but that do not address the cause of the disease. This is a particular problem for disease manifestations that are not well treated by gold standard therapies that focus on striatal dopamine replacement alone. Extra-striatal areas that are not well treated include: the upper airway (i.e., voice and swallowing disorders), periphery (i.e., gastrointestinal (GI) disorders), and higher cortical areas (i.e, sleep disturbances, and cognitive impairments). Loss of function resulting from cell death in these areas, specifically the upper airway, is often the eventual cause of death for this patient population. Unfortunately, the connection between synuclein aggregation and many of these extra-striatal phenotypes is unknown. There are significant gaps in our understanding of the pathological manifestations of synucleinopathies including: what is the effect of age on synuclein spread; is the accumulation of synuclein in extra-striatal regions alone cause for deficits; and what are the mechanisms by which synuclein accumulates and spreads in both systems?  The overarching focus of this project is to provide answers for these gaps with the long-term goal of developing the first disease-modifying treatments for synucleinopathies. To address these gaps, the Schaser Research Group uses an innovative transgenic mouse model to examine synuclein aggregation and spread in the extra-striatal system and determine its relationship to behavioral impairments in voice and swallowing function.

2020-2021 Talks

April 26, 2021

Ann Alvar, PhD candidate in Speech, Language, and Hearing Sciences at Purdue University

"The effects of sound level on Autonomic Responses and Attention"

Abstract: Levels of autonomic arousal have differing effects on behavior and task performance. This relationship may be facilitated by autonomic arousal's impact on attention. This influence could help explain atypical attentional patterns seen in autism spectrum disorder (ASD), a population that also differs in behavioral responses to autonomic arousal. To study this we are using noise level, an established technique to alter levels of autonomic arousal to study the effect on participants' performance on visual attention tasks called saccade tasks. These saccade tasks look at the competition between 3 components of attention, fixation, re-orienting, and top-down control, which are known to be affected by ASD. Additionally, we are testing to see if traits related to autism spectrum disorder found in the general population may affect this relationship.

April 19, 2021

Danai Fannin, PhD, CCC-SLP, Associate Professor, North Carolina Central University

"Considerations for Culturally and Linguistically Diverse Children with Autism"

Abstract: Detection of autism and receipt of evidence-based services can alter a child’s developmental trajectory and improve quality of life, but these benefits are not equitably distributed across racial/ethnic, socioeconomic, and geographic groups. Barriers to timely assessment and treatment are thought to relate to: limited English proficiency, variations in cultural interpretation of symptoms; stigma; cultural validity of ‘gold standard’ measures; systemic bias; or reduced caregiver alliance with the health system and providers. This presentation will include descriptions of health and educational disparities and discussion of considerations clinicians might take when working with culturally and linguistically diverse families.

April 12, 2021

Adriana Weisleder, PhD, Assistant Professor, Northwestern University

“Understanding Poverty-Related Disparities in Language Development: Mechanisms and Intervention”

Abstract:  While much research has documented differences in language development between children from higher and lower socioeconomic backgrounds, many questions remain about what underlies these disparities. Using a multi-method approach (eye-tracking experiments, naturalistic observation, real-world intervention), my research seeks to understand how early environments support the development of processing skills that facilitate language growth. I will present evidence suggesting that opportunities for rich verbal interaction sharpen language-processing skills that facilitate word learning, and contribute to vocabulary development. I will then present evidence on the causal role of caregiver-child interactions through studies of intervention. Finally, I will present work on the implementation of interventions in different contexts and with diverse populations, and discuss implications of this research for public health strategies seeking to reduce disparities in language development. I will conclude by discussing planned work trying to understand the relations between language experience, processing skills, and language outcomes in children with language delays and disorders.

March 15, 2021

Josh Weirick, MA TESOL (He/Him/His), PhD candidate in linguistics, Purdue Experimental Linguistics Lab (ExLing)

"Examining the processing of word order alternations across populations: Potential implications for understanding sentence planning in persons with aphasia"

Abstract: All languages have multiple means of expressing the same message. This property is clearly exemplified by syntactic alternations, which are sets of sentences that are structurally distinct but are close paraphrases of one another (e.g. the active/passive alternation, the dative alternation, and ‘heavy’ NP shift in English). The overarching goal of Josh’s research program is to better understand when and why word order alternations take place. In pursuit of this goal, he investigates two questions: (1) To what degree do each of the relevant factors contribute to the occurrence of one word order variant instead of another, and (2) How does the influence of each factor differ across populations? For example, during the production of English active/passive sentences, the amount of influence exerted by each of the relevant factors appears to vary across populations, resulting in different speakers employing different sentence planning strategies. Eye movement data collected during a picture description task (Lee 2019) suggest that persons with aphasia (PWA) employ different strategies in the earliest stages of active/passive sentence planning compared to healthy older adults, though the exact types of sentence planning that take place during these stages remain to be investigated. In this presentation, Josh will discuss two other alternations, the English dative alternation (e.g. the student sent a photograph to the botanist vs. the student sent the botanist a photograph) and ‘heavy’ NP shift (e.g. the student sent a photograph to the botanist vs. the student sent to the botanist a photograph) and two factors that contribute to speakers’ dative sentence preferences: discourse givenness (the prior mention of a sentence element in the preceding linguistic context) and the restriction of structural alternatives via statistical preemption. He will then present his current work, which examines the influence of discourse givenness on the processing of English dative sentences by three populations: monolingual English speakers, German-English bilinguals, and Spanish-English bilinguals. Finally, he will consider how the linguistic properties of English dative sentences might be leveraged to better understand the early stages of sentence planning in PWA.

March 8, 2021

Kelly L. Coburn, MA, CCC-SLP, PhD candidate in Communication Sciences and Disorders at Penn State and a candidate for a postdoctoral fellowship in the Department of Speech, Language, and Hearing Sciences

"Developing Focus on the Language of Autism"

Abstract: Kelly will speak about the ongoing process of focusing their research interests within the topic of autism, beginning with their clinical experience as a speech-language pathologist and carrying through their Ph.D. program. To begin addressing the questions that led them to doctoral study, Kelly conducted a narrative review of neurodevelopmental differences in autism that could contribute to language learning. Their talk will include a few clinical strategies based on the results of that review for SLPs who work with autistic language learners. Since then, Kelly has designed experimental studies to explore working memory and narrative production in autistic adults. Kelly will discuss preliminary findings from a study of verbal and visuospatial recall which suggest that people may consider using multiple communicative modalities to support the communication of speaking autistic individuals. Kelly will also introduce their current study of narrative discourse by autistic adults whose genders are under-represented in the peer-reviewed literature. The broad goal of this research is to improve access to appropriate diagnoses and supports for neurodivergent people. Ultimately, Kelly hopes that their research and advocacy will contribute to a world where all people have access to the language and supports they need to develop and communicate their personal identities. 

March 1, 2021

Andrea Toliver-Smith, PhD, CCC-SLP, Assistant Professor, Maryville University

"A Phenomenological Study of Multicultural/Multilingual Infusion in Communication Sciences and Disorders"

Abstract:  Purpose: The purpose of this study was to examine the phenomenon of multicultural/multilingual infusion (MMI) in communication science and disorders courses from a pedagogical perspective in order to assist future instructors in teaching their students in the area of multicultural issues.  Method: The participants were recruited during a National Black Association of Speech, Language, and Hearing (NBASLH) Conference.  They completed an online questionnaire with 10 open-ended questions pertaining to how they infused multicultural information into their courses.  Results:  Survey data revealed various themes that addressed MMI and examples of strategies and activities. Conclusion: The results highlight methods and resources for MMI. The use of MMI as a way to begin eliminating racism with the field of Communication Sciences and Disorders is discussed. 

February 1, 2021

Gabriela Simon-Cereijido, PhD, CCC-SLP, Associate Professor, California State University

"Content, form, experience, and ability in the language of dual language learners"

January 25, 2021

Valarie B. Fleming, PhD, CCC-SLP, Professor and Chair, Texas State University

"Toward establishing an inclusive learning environment in CSD"

Abstract:  Increasing communication sciences and disorders (CSD) professionals’ cultural competence is of the highest importance to address cultural and linguistic influences on service delivery outcomes.  Setting clinicians on the path to cultural competence/cultural humility begins with inclusive and innovative practices in CSD educational programs. This session will provide faculty tools to begin transforming courses to become not only more inclusive and equitable in nature, but also to help educate future clinicians in providing inclusive services by nature.

 

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