Postgraduate Fellow: Ms Emma Pilkington
Emma is currently a Specialist Speech and Language Therapist in Essex. She previously worked at the University of Manchester as a research assistant, and has worked in clinical roles at Addenbrooke's Hospital, Cambridge and across the Essex region.
Description of research
After a stroke, some people find it hard to stop themselves saying words which do not make sense. Most people know what they want to say, but the words come out jumbled up (“jargon speech”).
Jargon speech is extremely frustrating for the stroke survivor. Some researchers think this happens because the person does not have enough information to get the words out correctly. In particular, they are lacking the right sounds in the right order. Other researchers believe that it might be because the person cannot clear one word quickly enough before the next word arrives, and these words get mixed up.
Currently, it is very hard for the therapist to help a stroke survivor to learn how to control and improve their jargon speech. This study wants to understand more about its causes. By doing this, we can establish ways that the therapist and the stroke survivor can work together to stop words coming out in a jumble.
We will explore techniques that alter the way the stroke survivor responds and investigate what helps the words come out clearer. We can then use these techniques to support therapy.
A second aim of the study is to understand how the brain functions when producing jargon speech. We will do this by measuring the brain’s electrical activity via electrodes in a cap (like a swimming cap) placed on the stroke survivor's head. This is called 'electrophysiology' and it is not painful or harmful.
These measurements are helpful because they tell us how the brain is responding and which areas of the brain are “talking to each other”. When we combine this electrophysiology information with information about the way the person is speaking, we can build up a picture of how the brain is working, what is going wrong, and its possible solutions.