SLHS Weekly Seminar

2021-2022 Talks

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

April 25, 2022 - Final Seminar of the Year

Title: Examining the achievement gap through a language processing lens

Speaker: Invited Speaker Michelle Erskine, MS, CCC-SLP, University of Maryland-College Park

Abstract: Spoken language comprehension requires the integration of perceptual information with communicative intent and sociocultural information (speaker identity). This process usually unfolds with relative ease, but can be disrupted by dialect variation and information about in-group membership (e.g., speaker race). It is these kinds of disruptions that characterize the challenges faced by speakers of minoritized dialects, like African American English (AAE), when comprehending General American English (GAE) in school. A large body of research has shown that increased use of minoritized dialect features negatively impacts spoken language comprehension, yet the mechanisms that underlie this relationship remain unclear. In this talk, I will share data from a series of completed and ongoing studies that examine whether effects of dialect variation on spoken language comprehension are driven by difficulties in perceptual processing or differences related to mechanisms related to epistemic trust.

Speaker Bio: Michelle Erskine is a speech-language pathologist and a doctoral student at the University of Maryland-College Park. Broadly, her research is focused on the intersection of dialect variation, academic achievement, and poverty. More specifically, her research examines how dialect variation influences spoken language processing and how differences that are often observed at the timescale of milliseconds scale towards performance in academic contexts. 

Zoom Info:
Meeting ID: 947 0604 1566
Passcode: 242723

April 18, 2022

Title: Use of a Telehealth Platform for the Automated Assessment of Motor Speech Disorders: A Work in Progress

Speaker: Andrew Exner, MS, MBA, PhD student in SLHS

Abstract: People with Parkinson disease (PD) often lack access to effective speech-language therapy services due to geographical distance, scheduling difficulties, increased healthcare costs, mobility and cognitive impairments, and lower internet access in rural communities where PD is more prevalent. A novel remote monitoring platform can facilitate improved access to quality healthcare for people with PD through the use of telehealth. We report data from 38 people with a neurologist’s diagnosis of PD and 22 age- and sex-matched controls collected through a HIPAA-compliant virtual dialog agent that conducts interviews, collecting both audio and video. We compare automated measurements by the system to established human measures on speech rate, articulation rate, and intonational prosody to ascertain the feasibility and reliability of automated analytics for assessing the hypokinetic dysarthria of people with PD. For speech rate, automatic measures and human measures demonstrated good agreement. For articulation rate, automatic measures and human measures were not in agreement, primarily due to differences in the number of words produced by participants. Accuracy between the systems is highest when the number of words produced is close to the text. For intonational prosody, automatic measurements and human measures were not in agreement, primarily due to issues with tracking fundamental frequency in people with PD using automatic settings. Accuracy between the systems is highest when there is no aperiodic voicing in the utterances produced.

Speaker Bio: Andrew Exner is a PhD student in the Purdue Motor Speech Lab, studying with Dr. Jessica Huber. He completed his M.S. in Speech-Language Pathology at Purdue in 2019. His research interests include how prosody and respiratory kinematics are affected in people with Parkinson disease, and how prosody and respiratory kinematics change in response to auditory conversational cues.

April 11, 2022

Title: The Effects of Expiratory Muscle Strength Training on Communication in ALS 

Speaker: Brianna Kiefer, MS, CCC-SLP, PhD Candidate in SLHS

Abstract: Atrophy of the respiratory musculature is well documented in Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS) and is likely a primary contributor to some of the deviant speech characteristics known to dysarthria in ALS. Recent studies have found that Expiratory Muscle Strength Training (EMST) implemented at moderate-intensity levels in the early stages of disease progression has positive effects on respiratory strength and symptoms of dysphagia for patients with ALS. The current talk will address a critical gap in this line of research by reporting data from a current study which investigates the impact of moderate-intensity EMST on speech production in ALS.  

Speaker Bio: Brianna Kiefer, MS CCC-SLP, is a PhD candidate in the Department of Speech, Language, and Hearing Sciences at Purdue University. Her research focuses on testing the effectiveness of speech treatment paradigms for people with neurodegenerative diseases.  

View the talk here

April 4, 2022

Title: Macro and micro patterns in child language development: A cross-cultural perspective

Speaker: Invited Speaker Dr. Marisa Casillas, University of Chicago

Abstract: How much language exposure do children need to become mature speakers? Child language researchers have long debated about the nature of children's language input—how much do they get, what parts of it matter for their language learning, and how does it relate to variability between individuals in linguistic behaviors? A 50-year body of work in developmental psychology has flourished around the idea that child-directed language (CDL) is the defining factor in shaping language development. However, this field has primarily limited itself to studying children in urban, industrialized settings. In contrast, anthropologically informed studies focusing on development in diverse cultural contexts have consistently argued that CDL is neither universal nor necessary for typical language development. This debate, now primarily drawn along disciplinary lines, often seems to be at an impasse—an unfortunate outcome due to its influential role in, e.g.: strategies for developmental intervention, policies for language revitalization, and setting core puzzles for future research. Leveraging highly naturalistic language environment measures from children's waking days across diverse sociocultural contexts (Mayan, Papuan, North American, and more), as well as close analysis of young children's language behavior and related experimental data, I argue for a new story of children’s linguistic environments: Children around the world interweave information from infrequent CDL and other observable language to spur on robust linguistic development at the macro scale; variation in the content and style of that input refines what children tend to do with language, such that they ultimately resemble the other speakers in their community on the micro scale.

Speaker Bio: Marisa Casillas is an assistant professor of Comparative Human Development at the University of Chicago. Her lab, the Chatter Lab, investigates how language and communication intertwine across the lifespan and across diverse cultural contexts. Learn more at

March 28, 2022

Title: Executive Function Difficulties and Their Relationship to Everyday Functioning in Children with Autism

Speaker: Invited Speaker Dr. Shawn Christ, University of Missouri

Abstract: In addition to experiencing difficulties with social communication, children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) frequently also have difficulties with higher-order cognitive processes such as executive function. The present talk will focus on recent work from Dr. Christ’s lab that is aimed at better characterizing the nature of these difficulties, particularly as it relates to inhibitory control and working memory.  In addition, we will discuss the results of a recent study examining the relationship between lab-based measurement of executive function and everyday symptomatology in children with ASD.

Speaker Bio: Shawn Christ, PhD, is an Associate Professor in the Department of Psychological Sciences, MRI Director at the Cognitive Neuroscience Systems Core Facility, and adjunct professor at the Thompson Center for Autism and Neurodevelopmental Disorders at the University of Missouri. Dr. Christ has a strong record of publication (over 60 peer-reviewed papers) in the area of pediatric neuropsychology.  He has previously been named a MU Thompson Center Research Scholar and received the MU Department of Psychological Sciences Max Meyer Outstanding Junior Faculty Research Award.  Dr. Christ has a history of extensive internally and externally funded research support (e.g., National Institutes of Mental Health, Department of Defense, NPKUA, BioMarin Pharmaceutical Inc., Autism Speaks Foundation). Research in Dr. Christ’s laboratory centers on the development of cognitive abilities in children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) and other neurodevelopmental disorders (e.g., phenylketonuria) as well as the neurocognitive changes associated with pharmaceutical and behavioral interventions in these populations.

March 21, 2022

Title: Auditory- and visual-speech processing in the adult auditory cortex immediately after cochlear implantation 

Speaker: Maureen Shader, AuD, PhD, CCC-A, Professor in SLHS

Abstract: Sensory deprivation causes structural and functional changes to the human brain, and a diverse range of neuroimaging techniques have informed our understanding of these changes. The cortical changes that occur after the reintroduction of sensory input is less well-understood, primarily due to a lack of compatible neuroimaging techniques. Cochlear implantation delivers essentially immediate reintroduction of acoustic sensory information to the brain and provides a mechanism with which to understand how the brain adapts to abrupt reinstatement of sensory percepts. Previous reports have indicated that over a year is required for the brain to reestablish canonical cortical processing patterns after the reintroduction of auditory stimulation. However, these investigations have utilized imaging techniques that are not well suited to studying the brain in the presence of a cochlear implant, and consequently have used simple artificial stimuli that are not representative of typical listening. This talk will present a study using functional near-infrared spectroscopy (fNIRS)—a light-based neuroimaging method that is compatible with implanted devices—to investigate brain activity to natural speech stimuli directly after cochlear implantation and to determine if atypical cortical processing patterns are observed. Results for auditory-only speech and visual-only speech will be presented for both unilateral and bilateral cochlear implant recipients immediately following implant activation.

View the talk here

March 14, 2022 - No Seminar (Spring Break)

March 7, 2022

Title: Do No Harm: Letters of Recommendation, Unconscious Bias, and Admissions in CSD Graduate Programs

Speaker: Invited Speaker Dr. Brandi L. Newkirk-Turner, Jackson State University

Abstract: Faculty members and clinical professionals commonly write letters of recommendation (LORs) for students who are applying to Communication Sciences and Disorders (CSD) graduate programs. Although letters can be helpful, they may do more harm if they include phrases that bias readers (PBRs) and language that reinforces existing stereotypes. This presentation will discuss literature that shows how LORs can be systematically biased in racial and gendered ways. Using data from a CSD program, I will provide examples of biased language in LORs written for students applying to speech-language pathology graduate programs and facilitate exercises that will help audience members identify problematic language in LORs to illustrate how a well-intentioned LOR may unknowingly bias readers. Specific strategies for recognizing phrases that can unintentionally bias a reader and best practices will be discussed. This research presentation will be appropriate for faculty members, clinical educators, future faculty members and clinical educators, letter writers, and anyone who is interested in graduate education.

Speaker Bio: Brandi L. Newkirk-Turner, Ph.D., CCC-SLP, is the Associate Provost for Academic Affairs at Jackson State University and a professor in the Department of Communicative Disorders. Her research examines issues that are relevant to speech-language assessment of child speakers of African American English; best practices in preparing graduate students to serve culturally and linguistically diverse populations; and barriers, opportunities, and potential impacts in reducing or eliminating equity gaps of underserved student populations in higher education.

February 28, 2022

Title: Shared and separate neuromuscular underpinnings of swallowing and motor speech development in the school age years

Speaker: Rachel Hahn Arkenberg, M.S. CCC-SLP, CLC

Abstract: Despite clinical evidence of frequent co-occurrence of swallowing and speech disorders in childhood, there is relatively limited empirical research on the shared and separate neuromuscular underpinnings of these two vital functions. The purpose of this study was to 1) compare development of swallowing and speech between younger and older children, and 2) determine if there are similarities in underlying neuromuscular control of swallowing and speech. Neuromuscular control was evaluated using surface electromyography (sEMG) of the submental muscles and superior and inferior orbicularis oris muscles of twenty-six typically developing children (13 seven to eight year olds, 13 11-12 year olds).  Mixed effects models revealed that older children demonstrated refinement in neuromuscular activation compared to younger children, for both swallowing and speech for three outcome measures: normalized mean amplitude, burst duration, and time to peak amplitude, with no age differences for bilateral synchrony. Mixed effect models of homologous pairs revealed similar activation between swallowing and speech tasks for bilateral synchrony, but different activation for all other outcome measures. Future research should include longitudinal analysis of speech and swallowing development, as well as measures of central neurophysiology.  

February 21, 2022 - No Seminar (PhD Training)

February 14, 2022

Title: A comparison of in-person and telemedicine treatment modalities using the SpeechVive device

Speakers: Dr. Jessica Huber & undergraduate student Renee Kohlmeier

Abstract: The purpose of this study was to examine the effectiveness of using the SpeechVive device through telemedicine modality compared to in-person. The device plays multi-talker babble noise in one ear while the person wearing the device is talking to elicit louder and clearer speech. 65 people with Parkinson disease (PD) were enrolled in the study; 34 chose to participate in-person and 31 via telemedicine. Participants produced monologues with the device on and off at pre-treatment, 6 weeks into treatment, and at 12 weeks (post-treatment). For the in-person group, vocal intensity was higher with the device on than off, but for the telemedicine group there was no significant difference. Participants paused more often and for longer durations with the device off as compared to on. The results from the in-person group are similar to those in earlier studies using the SpeechVive device. However, for the telemedicine group, results suggest that the telemedicine modality may not be as effective.

View the talk here

February 7, 2022 - No Seminar 

January 31, 2022 - No Seminar

January 24, 2022 - No Seminar

January 17, 2022 - No Seminar (MLK Day)

January 10, 2022

Title: Where do disfluencies come from?

Speaker: Invited Speaker Dr. Aurélie Pistono, Ghent University (Belgium)

Abstract: Natural speech production is full of disfluencies, which are defined as “phenomena that interrupt the flow of speech and do not add propositional content to an utterance” (Fox Tree, 1995). This term includes several phenomena such as silent pauses, hesitations or self-corrections. Despite the high frequency of disfluencies, the question remains as to why speakers are disfluent. In this seminar, I will present studies that aim at better understanding the production of disfluencies: (i) where do they come from, within the language production system? (ii) what other factors may be responsible for the production of disfluencies (in typical aging and Alzheimer’s disease in particular)? 

Speaker Bio: I am currently a postdoctoral researcher in Prof. Hartsuiker's lab at the Department of Experimental Psychology at Ghent University (Belgium). I completed a bachelor's and master's in linguistics and psychology in France. I then pursued a PhD in cognitive neuroscience at the Toulouse Neuroimaging Center (Toulouse, France) on discourse production in typical aging and Alzheimer's disease. Following my PhD, I conducted an fMRI project during a post-doctorate at the Octogone-Lordat lab (Toulouse, France) on language functional networks at rest and during connected-speech production. I then decided to deepen my knowledge in psycholinguistics and got a Marie Skłodowska Curie fellowship (with Prof. Hartsuiker, Ghent University). In this fellowship, I combined machine learning and eye-tracking techniques to better understand where disfluencies come from.

View the talk here

December 6, 2021

Title: Investigating the pathophysiology of radiation-induced dysphagia 

Speaker: Invited Speaker Dr. Suzanne N. King, University of Louisville

Abstract: Radiation based treatments for oral and pharyngeal cancers can cause significant impairments in swallowing function that can negatively affect a patient’s quality of life. This presentation will discuss development of our animal model and approaches for studying the mechanism associated with radiation induced dysphagia. Our goal is to enhance our understanding of the pathophysiology, which will enable development of new approaches to prevent or treat patients with radiation induced dysphagia. 

November 29, 2021

Title: Understanding Speech Production Deficits in Children with Speech and Language Disorders: A Work in Progress

Speaker: Françoise Brosseau-Lapré, PhD, CCC-SLP, Professor in SLHS

Abstract: While much research has documented the speech production difficulties of English-speaking children with speech sound disorders, many questions remain about underlies these difficulties producing speech sounds accurately. I will present studies on the speech perception skills and nonword repetition abilities of children with isolated speech sound disorder and with both speech sound disorder and developmental language disorder. I will also present work on the relationship between types of speech errors, error consistency, and phonological processing in these children. Finally, I will discuss planned studies to better understand how children’s speech perception abilities change over developmental time, and how phonological processing, speech production, and language skills influence the ability to perceive speech errors.

November 22, 2021

Title: Predictive Processing During Online Sentence Comprehension in Three-Year-Old Children: A Work In Progress

Speaker: Mariel L. Schroeder, M.A. TESL, MS-SLP and PhD Graduate Student

Abstract: The ability to interpret speech as it unfolds in sentences is a complex skill that is essential to successful spoken communication. However, variability in sentence processing skills, such as predictive processing, can impair not only concurrent communication success but also future language development. The present study examines individual and group differences in online predictive processing skills in three-year-old children using real-time eye-tracked sentence comprehension.

November 15, 2021

Title: Cursing in American English: Disorders, Brain, and Feedback Control

Speaker: Invited Speaker Dr. Jamie Reilly, Temple University

Abstract: Uncontrolled cursing is a symptom of many neurological disorders. Such dissociations have fueled hypotheses about how cursing might be stored or accessed in the brain as a unique lexicon. This talk will provide a broad overview of the psychology and neurology of cursing. I will describe a feedback model of neurogenic cursing premised on the hypothesis that cursing occurs in the context of arousal and that cursing in turn evokes more arousal. We will discuss recent work from my laboratory investigating the nature of cursing and the effect of brain stimulation on arousal while cursing. I am hoping for your participation in helping us generate ideas about how to test and refine this very new model.

Speaker Bio: Jamie Reilly is currently a Professor of Communication Sciences and Disorders at Temple University. He studied Russian and Linguistics as an undergraduate at Tulane University and later completed his MA and clinical fellowship in Speech-Language Pathology. After realizing he wasn’t the greatest clinician on earth, Jamie pursued a PhD in Cognitive Psychology at Temple University followed by a postdoctoral fellowship in Cognitive Neuroscience at the University of Pennsylvania. His research has meandered over a wide range of topics primarily related to semantic memory, the nature of abstract concepts, and language loss in dementia.  

View the talk here

November 8, 2021

Title: Model Systems for Investigating Mechanisms of Tobacco Product Induced Vocal Fold Disease

Speaker: Invited Speaker Dr. Elizabeth Erickson-DiRenzo, Stanford University School of Medicine

Abstract: In normal physiology, the vocal fold mucosa protects these tissues from the ~25 million pollutant, viral, and bacterial insults inhaled each day. I examine the role of the cells of the vocal fold mucosa (i.e. epithelial cells, fibroblasts) as modulators of mucosal remodeling in injury and disease and defensive barriers between the external environment and the underlying tissue. Specifically, a major objective in my laboratory is to develop in vivo and in vitro model systems of clinically relevant tobacco product exposures that can be used to study pathophysiological changes to the vocal fold mucosa that occur in the larynx of human tobacco product users. In this seminar, I will discuss our mouse and cell culture model systems of both conventional cigarette and electronic (e)-cigarette exposure, which we use to investigate mechanisms of tobacco produce induced vocal fold disease.  

Speaker Bio: Dr. Erickson-DiRenzo is an Assistant Professor and the director of the Voice Research Lab in the Department of Otolaryngology – Head & Neck Surgery at the Stanford University School of Medicine. In this capacity, she is a researcher and clinician with the objective to improve the prevention and management of voice disorders. Dr. Erickson-DiRenzo’s laboratory utilizes a highly collaborative, multifaceted approach consisting of basic science and clinical research techniques. 

View the talk here

November 1, 2021

Title: Measures of tonic and phasic activity of the locus coeruleus – norepinephrine system in children with autism spectrum disorder: An event-related potential and pupillometry study 

Speaker: Yesol Kim, second-year PhD student in Speech, Language, and Hearing Sciences under the supervision of Dr. Brandon Keehn

Abstract: A growing body of research suggests that locus coeruleus – norepinephrine (LC-NE) system may function differently in individuals with autism spectrum disorder (ASD). Understanding the dynamics of both tonic (resting pupil diameter) and phasic (pupil dilation response [PDR] and event-related potential [ERP]) indices may provide meaningful insights about the nature of LC-NE dysfunction in ASD. Participants were 24 children with ASD and 27 age- and nonverbal-IQ matched typically developing (TD) children. Consistent with prior reports, our results indicate that children with ASD exhibit increased tonic (resting pupil diameter) and reduced phasic (PDR and ERP) activity of the LC-NE system. These findings expand our understanding of neurophysiological differences present in ASD and demonstrate that aberrant LC-NE activation may be associated with atypical arousal and decreased responsivity to behaviorally-relevant information in ASD. 

View the talk here

October 25, 2021

Title: Investigating the Role of Systemic Dehydration on Vocal Fold Healing; a Work in Progress

Speaker: Anumitha Venkatraman, MS CCC-SLP, PhD candidate in SLHS

Abstract: Systemic dehydration alters the expression of vocal fold inflammatory and epithelial cell junction markers. These biological changes can have downstream effects on wound healing processes following injury. However, the role of systemic dehydration on vocal fold healing has not been previously explored. Reduced hydration can prolong inflammation and delay wound healing in organs such as the dermis. Thus, this study in progress investigates whether systemic dehydration alters vocal fold healing outcomes 24-hours following acute vocal fold trauma. Vocal fold injury was induced in the dehydrated rat larynx (N = 9). Control groups included euhydrated rats with vocal fold injury (N = 9) and dehydrated and euhydrated rats without vocal fold injury (N = 9/group). Outcome measures included gene markers for inflammation and epithelial cell barrier proteins. Preliminary findings and future plans will be discussed. 

View the talk here

October 18, 2021 - Canceled

October 11, 2021 - No Seminar (October Break)

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.

View the talk here 

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.

View the talk here

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.


Speech, Language, & Hearing Sciences, Lyles-Porter Hall, 715 Clinic Drive, West Lafayette, IN 47907-2122, PH: (765) 494-3789

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