A Novel Pupillometric Method for Indexing Word Difficulty in Individuals With and Without Aphasia Purpose Cognitive effort is a clinically important facet of linguistic processing that is often overlooked in the assessment and treatment of people with aphasia (PWA). Furthermore, there is a paucity of valid ways to index cognitive effort in PWA. The construct of cognitive effort has been indexed for decades via ... Research Article
Research Article  |   October 01, 2015
A Novel Pupillometric Method for Indexing Word Difficulty in Individuals With and Without Aphasia
 
Author Affiliations & Notes
  • Laura R. Chapman
    Ohio University, Athens
  • Brooke Hallowell
    Ohio University, Athens
  • Disclosure: The author has declared that no competing interests existed at the time of publication.
    Disclosure: The author has declared that no competing interests existed at the time of publication. ×
  • Correspondence to Laura Roche Chapman: lr161209@ohio.edu
  • Editor: Rhea Paul
    Editor: Rhea Paul×
  • Associate Editor: Jessica Richardson
    Associate Editor: Jessica Richardson×
Article Information
Language Disorders / Aphasia / Language / Research Articles
Research Article   |   October 01, 2015
A Novel Pupillometric Method for Indexing Word Difficulty in Individuals With and Without Aphasia
Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research, October 2015, Vol. 58, 1508-1520. doi:10.1044/2015_JSLHR-L-14-0287
History: Received October 10, 2014 , Revised February 11, 2015 , Accepted June 11, 2015
 
Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research, October 2015, Vol. 58, 1508-1520. doi:10.1044/2015_JSLHR-L-14-0287
History: Received October 10, 2014; Revised February 11, 2015; Accepted June 11, 2015

Purpose Cognitive effort is a clinically important facet of linguistic processing that is often overlooked in the assessment and treatment of people with aphasia (PWA). Furthermore, there is a paucity of valid ways to index cognitive effort in PWA. The construct of cognitive effort has been indexed for decades via pupillometry (measurement of pupil dilation and constriction during a cognitive task), yet pupillometry has not been implemented in studies including PWA. In the present study, we tested a novel method for indexing cognitive effort during linguistic processing in people with and without aphasia.

Method Forty control participants and 39 PWA listened to semantically easy and difficult single nouns and looked at images while their pupillary responses were monitored. Mean pupil dilation in response to easy versus difficult nouns was calculated to index cognitive effort.

Results Larger mean pupil dilation values were obtained for difficult compared with easy nouns for both groups.

Conclusion Results provide preliminary evidence that pupillometry can be used to index cognitive effort during linguistic processing of single nouns in people with and without aphasia. Methods for indexing cognitive effort will be a valuable addition to existing assessment methods. Suggestions for further research are offered.

Acknowledgments
This work was supported in part by a Plural Publishing Award for Graduate Student Research and an Ohio University PhD Fellowship Award granted to the first author and by grants from the National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders (Grant R43DC010079) and the Virginia Commonwealth Research Commercialization Fund, awarded to the second author. We extend gratitude to Chao-Yang Lee and James McCarthy for their encouragement and valuable suggestions regarding study design, task development, and data analysis. We thank Dixon Cleveland, Pete Norloff, Hans Kruse, and Justin Dailey for the development and continuous modification of eye-tracking presentation and analysis software. Thanks to Kenneth Dobo and James Montgomery for assisting with stimuli development. We are grateful to Vanessa Shaw for support offered throughout all phases of this project, Penny Sullivan for assistance with data collection, and Lina Himawan for guidance on statistical analysis. We extend gratitude to Darlene Williamson and the staff and members of the Stroke Comeback Center for the generous donation of time, space, and resources during data collection. Heartfelt thanks are also extended to all of the individuals who participated in this study.
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