PhD Studentship: Investigating the applications of eye-tracking technology to the understanding of language processing in aphasia

University of Sheffield - Human Communication Sciences

Assessment of language processing in people with stroke-related language loss relies on asking people to select or to describe pictures. To complete these tasks the person must process the pictures visually, and integrate the results of this activity with their language processing. The only measure taken during this complex set of activities however is the end point of language comprehension or production. There is no consideration of accompanying visual processing undertaken prior to this end point, and no way of identifying visual processing difficulties which may impact on completion of the tasks. Examination of language and vision in parallel via eye-tracking technology has the potential to enhance the accuracy of language assessment and hence diagnosis. More accurate diagnosis will lead to the selection of more appropriate intervention methods, and better management of the person’s individual needs.

A potential second strand to this project concerns the potential alterations to visual behaviour which may be recommended to an individual on the basis of the assessment of visual and language processing. Advising a participant appropriately concerning their visual behaviour (i.e. where they are focusing their attention and for how long) could lead to improved performance on language assessment.

A final strand consists of the ways in which people with aphasia navigate websites. These are notorious in being very difficult for people with aphasia, resulting in people avoiding this technology and being excluded from this mainstay of normal modern life. Analysis of the person’s visual behaviour while navigating websites will enable advice to be tailored to the individual and lead to more positive engagement with this technology, allowing people to access the social and other opportunities which it brings.

Entry Requirements

Candidates must have a first or upper second class honors degree or significant research experience.

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Northern England