Research projects

There are currently three research projects in the unit: 

  • Multimodal Communicative Cues
  • New word learning in aphasia
  • Sing with the kid

MuMo – Multimodal Communicative Cues

PhD, University lecturer Satu Saalasti

Description Human communication is inherently multimodal. When we communicate with others, we use both our hearing and vision (lipreading or speechreading) for perceiving communicative cues. Lipreading is an important means for speech perception when hearing is challenged because of impairment or background noise. However, there is substantial variation between individuals in lipreading skills. We have previously found that this is reflected in the underlying brain mechanisms, as lipreading naturalistic speech activates similar network of brain areas than listening and reading, but in a lesser extent due to limited lipreading skill.

Relatedly, there is a lack of reliable methods for estimating individual’s lipreading skill, and the current project aims to develop a digital test for this purpose. Furthermore, lipreading is challenging because some sounds have similar lip shape, but different intraoral movements, which are not visible. However, novel biofeedback methods, such as ultrasound, provide means to visualize these intraoral speech movements, which may increase intervention efficacy.

The current project aims to develop intervention methods that build on ultrasound augmented visual feedback. Importantly, this project is involved in DELAD, a joint European initiative establishing a digital archive for sharing data related to disordered speech. The aim is to make these data available according to open science standards.

New word learning in aphasia

PhD, University lecturer Leena Tuomiranta

The research project started in 2018 in collaboration with three neurological rehabilitation units of Helsinki University Hospital.  The project focuses on new word learning ability and cognitive-linguistic skills in post-stroke aphasia at two time points: at max. 3 months and at 12 months post-stroke.

The ability to learn is the basis for effective aphasia rehabilitation. New word learning has been studied to some extent in chronic aphasia but not in people with more acute aphasia. The objectives of this project are to explore word acquisition in acute, sub-acute and chronic aphasia with a task resembling natural language learning contexts and study the association between learning ability, the cognitive-linguistic profile as measured with traditional aphasia tests as well as various background factors.

Sing with kid – role of singing and prosody for hearing and speech

PhD, University lecturer Ritva Torppa

Understanding how singing can improve language learning

Topics

Although singing is used to improve language learning, the detailed knowledge on the effects of singing is still lacking, especially for children with hearing impairments. Therefore, we address the links and effects of singing with children and by children themselves to language learning and underlying aspects, such as perception of pitch, rhythm and speech prosody. Our specific target is to understand the effects of singing for children with cochlear implants and hearing aids.

Research group

Seija Pekkala, PhD Adjunct Professor (Docent) in Speech-Language Pathology (Logopedics), Senior Lecturer-
Elisabet Kaila, Kaisla Parkkinen and Ilona Siltanen, Students in SpeechLanguage Pathology (Logopedics)