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Background noise in aphasia (Scadden Nelson et al., 2023)

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posted on 2023-07-24, 16:46 authored by Brenna Scadden Nelson, Tyson G. Harmon, Christopher Dromey, Kirsten Dixon Clawson

Purpose: The purpose of this study was to determine how different background noise conditions affect the spoken language of participants with aphasia during a story retell task.

Method: Participants included 11 adults with mild to moderate aphasia and 11 age- and gender-matched controls. Participants retold stories in a silent baseline and five background noise conditions (conversation, monologue, phone call, cocktail, and pink noise). Dependent measures of speech acoustics (fundamental frequency and mean intensity), speech fluency (speech rate and disfluent words), and language production (correct information units [CIUs], lexical errors, lexical diversity, and cohesive utterances) were compared between groups and across conditions.

Results: Background noise resulted in higher fundamental frequency (fo) and increased mean intensity for control participants across all noise conditions but only across some conditions for participants with aphasia. In relation to language production, background noise interfered significantly more with communication efficiency (i.e., percent CIUs) for participants with aphasia than the control group. For participants with aphasia, the phone call condition led to decreased lexical diversity. Across groups, condition effects generally suggested more interference on speech acoustics in conditions where continuous noise was present and more interference on language in conditions that presented continuous informational noise.

Conclusions: Although additional research is needed, preliminary findings suggest that background noise interferes with narrative discourse more for people with aphasia (PWA) than neurologically healthy adults. PWA may benefit from therapy that directly addresses communicating in noise.

Supplemental Material S1. Linguistic characteristics of speech–noise conditions.

Supplemental Material S2. Codes and definitions for Codes for Human Analysis of Transcripts (CHAT) system.

Supplemental Material S3. Sample person with aphasia (PWA) Computerized Language Analysis (CLAN) file.

Supplemental Material S4. Independent sample t-test results for background noise effects.

Scadden Nelson, B., Harmon, T. G., Dromey, C., & Clawson, K. D. (2023). Telling stories in noise: The impact of background noises on spoken language for people with aphasia. American Journal of Speech-Language Pathology, 32(5S), 2444–2460.

Publisher Note: This article is part of the Special Issue: Select Papers From the 51st Clinical Aphasiology Conference.


Financial support for this work was provided to Tyson G. Harmon by the David O. McKay School of Education.