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Using the tools of cognitive science and neuroscience

CSD researchers study language and language disabilities across the lifespan utilizing advanced technologies such as EEG, eyetracking, fNIRS systems, and fMRI. Through collaboration with colleagues in neuroscience/neurology, psychology, and linguistics, we are able to take an interdisciplinary approach to our research.

Working with a child on the use of AAC

Augmentative and Alternative Communication (AAC) and Developmental Disabilities Laboratory

Principal Investigator: Kathryn D. R. Drager, Ph.D., CCC-SLP

Studying AAC, Autism, Intervention with Individuals with Severe Disabilities, Low-Resource Communities and Contexts

This lab houses projects that seek to improve the lives of individuals with disabilities of all ages, with an emphasis on school-age children, adolescents, and adults with developmental disabilities, including autism. A particular focus is on daily experiences of individuals and families, and on interventions that can be implemented within daily life.

Studies in this laboratory also examine applications for people within low-resource communities, where technological solutions may not be readily available, including in low- and middle-income countries. The lab is equipped with digital audio and video recording and editing capability.

research participant wears a cap to monitor brain waves

Child Language Development Laboratory

Principal Investigator: Carol Miller, Ph.D.

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Studying Specific Language Impairment, Cognitive Processes, Speed of Processing

The Child Language Development Laboratory conducts research on the development of language in typical and non-typical ways in young children, adolescents, and adults. We are particularly interested in how language relates to memory, attention, and speed of processing. We use multiple methods, including published tests, computer-based games and tasks, and electroencephalography.

word cloud: williams, cognition, language, learning, lab, memory, processing, words, semantics, research, autism

Cognition and Language Learning Lab

Principal Investigator: Diane Williams, Ph.D., CCC-SLP

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Studying Autism, Language Processing, Memory, Cognitive Neuroscience, fMRI

Our lab is interested in learning more about cognitive and linguistic processing in children and adults with challenges in learning and using spoken language. 

The work of the lab related to autism spectrum disorders (ASD) is based on a model of ASD as a neurologically-based difference in Complex Information Processing. Ongoing research in this lab, using neuropsychologic and linguistic measures, includes investigations of how individuals with ASD who are successful learners process information. Related projects focus on the process of verbal encoding and word retrieval in individuals with ASD. 

We are also interested in individuals with other forms of developmental language disorders. Therefore, we are studying the performance of children with language learning challenges using a variety of computer-based and behavioral tasks to develop diagnostic measures that are sensitive to differences in information processing. A planned project will investigate structural and functional neurological differences in adults with Down syndrome.  

Electroglottograph

Experimental Phonetics Laboratory

Principal Investigator: Michael Robb, Ph.D., CCC-SLP

Studying Stuttering, Early Vocal Development, Phonological Disorders

This lab focuses on acoustic, physiological, and phonetic features of normal and disordered speech production across the lifespan. We are engaged in international collaborations with researchers in Germany, New Zealand, Australia, Japan, Hong Kong, and Kuwait.

Past and current research projects include (1) the influence of bilingualism and diglossia on normal and disfluent speech production, (2) the interaction of age and stuttering type on speech efficiency, (3) describing laryngeal-based phenomena in early vocal development among healthy and at-risk infants and (4) transgender voice and communication. Lab instrumentation includes acoustic analysis software, fNIRS system, acoustic pharyngometer, electromyographic and electrodermal analysis systems, and an electroglottograph.

eye tracking research

Laboratory for the Study of Visual Supports in Communication and Education

Principal Investigator: Krista Wilkinson, Ph.D.

Studying communication/language in developmental and intellectual disabilities, visual-perceptual processes, eyetracking

This lab seeks to improve the effectiveness of visual supports used in communication intervention for individuals with developmental and intellectual disabilities. Many such children use visual schedules, calendars, or communication books that have pictures of upcoming activities, desired foods, friends, or favorite social activities. The studies in this laboratory examine how systematic consideration of the construction of these displays (placement and color of the symbols on the aid, for instance) might influence functional communication or learning outcomes. The research includes basic studies of visual processing conducted within the laboratory as well as applied instructional procedures embedded within storybook reading activities that take place in children’s homes or schools. Future planned studies include neuro-imaging studies that will allow us to examine brain responses to the visual communication symbols presented on the displays.

Research participant prepares for fMRI

Semantic, Aphasia, and Neural Dynamics (SAND) Laboratory

Principal Investigator: Chaleece Sandberg, Ph.D., CCC-SLP

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Studying Semantic Treatment, Neuroplasticity, and Health Disparities in Aphasia

Research in the Semantic, Aphasia, and Neural Dynamics (SAND) Laboratory focuses on finding ways to improve the lives of individuals with acquired language disorders, with a primary interest in aphasia. Aphasia is a language disorder that occurs after a stroke or other acquired brain injury to the language dominant hemisphere of the brain.

We are especially interested in ways to a) optimize behavioral therapy through the application of cognitive and linguistic theories; b) promote neuroplasticity by understanding the cognitive and neural underpinnings of successful therapy; and c) alleviate healthcare disparities by improving accessibility to optimized therapy. We use neuroimaging (fMRI, EEG) to help us understand what changes are taking place in the brain during successful therapy and how we can enhance these processes.

We are also interested in a) how aging affects the way we interpret the cortical reorganization that occurs during language recovery; b) how to improve the quality and accessibility of treatment for bilingual aphasia; and c) how to improve access to mental health services for people with aphasia.