Fellow: Lucy Dyson
Stroke can damage the language centres of the brain. This damage can make it hard for people to understand and use language. This is called aphasia. Aphasia affects understanding and speaking in everyday conversation, and makes reading and writing difficult. This project will focus on people with aphasia who have difficulty understanding the specific meanings of everyday words. As a result, they may not be able to understand what people are saying, so communicating in everyday situations is hard. Speech and language therapists and researchers assess people with aphasia’s ability to understand single words. They usually rely on tests which require the person with aphasia to listen to, or read a word, and then point to the matching picture. These tests may not be a good measure of people’s true ability however, because they involve a lot more besides just making sense of the word. In addition, this type of assessment usually only tests understanding of words for tangible objects such as pen or apple and does not test words for abstract concepts such as love or chance, which are also used a lot in everyday conversation. The project will explore alternative ways of testing word meanings in people with aphasia, and will include a wider range of words than those used to date.