Date of Award

8-9-2022

Degree Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Department

Psychology

First Advisor

Seyda Ozcaliskan

Abstract

Adults with aphasia gesture more than adults without aphasia suggesting a compensatory role of gestures in aphasia communication. However, less is known about the role of gestures in different types of aphasia in varied discourse contexts that impose distinct communicative demands, particularly when compared to adults without aphasia. In this study, we analyze the speech and gestures produced by adults with fluent aphasia, non-fluent aphasia, and no aphasia (N=20/group) when telling first and third person narratives. We asked whether patterns of speech and gesture production would differ in adults with fluent, non-fluent, or no aphasia, and whether these patterns vary by different narrative contexts. Our results showed that adults with non-fluent aphasia produced the fewest amount, diversity, and complexity of speech, followed by adults with fluent aphasia and without aphasia—a pattern that was reversed for gesture production, showing a compensatory role of gestures in aphasia communication. The compensatory role of gesture also varied by aphasia type: gesture served primarily in place of missing speech in adults with non-fluent aphasia, while it largely helped with lexical access in word finding difficulties in fluent aphasia. We also found that all groups produced fewer amount and diversity of speech in third person than in first person narratives, a pattern that was reversed for gesture production of adults with fluent and non-fluent aphasia showing that gestures compensatory role increases with the higher task demands in aphasia. Overall, this study provided a comprehensive account of gesture’s role in the communications of individuals with distinct types of aphasia, with important clinical implications.

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