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A Novel Pupillometric Method (Chapman & Hallowell, 2015)

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journal contribution
posted on 26.01.2022, 00:37 authored by Laura R. Chapman, Brooke Hallowell
Purpose: Cognitive effort is a clinically important facet of linguistic processing that is often overlooked in the assessment and treatment of people with aphasia (PWA). Furthermore, there is a paucity of valid ways to index cognitive effort in PWA. The construct of cognitive effort has been indexed for decades via pupillometry (measurement of pupil dilation and constriction during a cognitive task), yet pupillometry has not been implemented in studies including PWA. In the present study, we tested a novel method for indexing cognitive effort during linguistic processing in people with and without aphasia.
Method: Forty control participants and 39 PWA listened to semantically easy and difficult single nouns and looked at images while their pupillary responses were monitored. Mean pupil dilation in response to easy versus difficult nouns was calculated to index cognitive effort.
Results: Larger mean pupil dilation values were obtained for difficult compared with easy nouns for both groups.
Conclusion: Results provide preliminary evidence that pupillometry can be used to index cognitive effort during linguistic processing of single nouns in people with and without aphasia. Methods for indexing cognitive effort will be a valuable addition to existing assessment methods. Suggestions for further research are offered.


This work was supported in part by a Plural Publishing Award for Graduate Student Research and an Ohio University PhD Fellowship Award granted to the first author and by grants from the National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders (Grant R43DC010079) and the Virginia Commonwealth Research Commercialization Fund, awarded to the second author.