Speed of word retrieval across neurotypical and aphasic participants: An investigation of novel assessment and treatment methods

  • Christina Sotiropoulou Drosopoulou

    Student thesis: Phd


    Word finding difficulties (WFD) and slowing down both in linguistic comprehension and production are standard characteristics of people as they grow older. WFD also commonly occur in aphasia and are considered one of the most pervasive symptoms affecting stroke participants' everyday communication. Research on older adults' WFD has traditionally focused on production of single words when completing picture naming tasks, while very little is known about how much these WFD can compromise connected speech. Similarly, while picture naming tasks have typically been used for assessing and treating word finding problems in clinical practice, there is a dearth of studies in the aphasiological literature investigating the relationship between confrontation naming and connected speech tasks.The thesis investigated whether a newly-developed method/treatment targeting both speed and accuracy ('repeated increasingly speeded presentation' - RISP) in picture naming was more effective in (a) speeding up participants without compromising accuracy, and (b) improving the use of the trained/treated names in connected speech, compared to a standard method/therapy ('standard presentation' - SP) which targeted accuracy alone. English-speaking, elderly participants (n=27 at Chapter 3, n= 21 at Chapter 4) and participants with aphasia of varying severity and subtype (n=5 at Chapter 5 and n=20 at Chapter 6) were asked to carry out picture naming tasks/picture naming treatments and composite picture description tasks where the composite pictures included the trained/treated items. As for the neurotypical participants, words which were retrieved more quickly in picture naming tasks were also those which were more readily available and produced in connected speech tasks. Compared to SP, RISP was found to be significantly more effective in significantly reducing picture naming latencies without inducing a speed-accuracy trade-off and with lasting effects. Finally, SP was as effective in promoting retrieval in connected speech as RISP. As for the clinical population, compared to SP, RISP was significantly more effective in improving picture naming accuracy and in maintaining the reduced RTs in the long term. In comparison to the SP, RISP crucially led to significantly higher carry-over of targeted items to connected speech. The thesis findings underlined the effectiveness of a more demanding single word training method/treatment in improving lexical retrieval in confrontation naming for neurotypical participants and in enhancing connected speech for participants with aphasia.
    Date of Award1 Aug 2016
    Original languageEnglish
    Awarding Institution
    • The University of Manchester
    SupervisorPaul Conroy (Supervisor) & Matthew Lambon Ralph (Supervisor)


    • generalisation
    • connected speech
    • picture description
    • picture naming
    • speed of naming
    • speech therapy
    • older adults
    • word finding difficulties
    • training method
    • aphasia

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