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Research

The faculty members in the Department of Communication Sciences and Disorders at the University of Houston conduct research on various areas of human communication and disorders. Their research investigates the speech, language, and hearing patterns of various populations. To learn more about each of our faculty's research programs, please read the information below and visit the individual faculty web pages. For specific information about research in our Department, please contact the faculty member or members whose research you are interested in.

Margaret Lehman Blake, Ph.D., CCC-SLP

Dr. Blake's research focuses on (1) cognitive-communication deficits associated with right hemisphere brain damage and (2) short- and long-term consequences of mild TBI and sports concussion.

Current research projects include (a) determining where breakdowns occur in identifying and integrating contextual cues that convey meaning. The purpose is to determine whether some cues (e.g., character motives or cause-effect relationships) are ‘easier’ to use than others (e.g., spatial relationships or timing) after damage to the right side of the brain; and (b) evaluating the effectiveness of some of the most common treatment techniques for an attentional disorder called unilateral neglect

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Blake

Ferenc Bunta, Ph.D.

The core of Dr. Bunta's research is the study of bilingual and cross-linguistic phonological acquisition. There are multiple on-going projects that investigate various aspects of phonological acquisition and representation cross-linguistically and in bilingual speakers revolving around three main lines of research: 1. Phonological Accuracy and Whole-Word Measures in Bilingual and Monolingual Children, 2. Acoustic Properties of Bilingual Children’s Speech, and 3. Bi-Directional Markedness Phenomena in the Phonology of Bilingual Children.

Dr. Bunta and the Bilingual and Cross-Linguistic Language Laboratory at the University of Houston maintain active collaborations with various researchers and their laboratories locally and nationally.

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Bunta

Anny Castilla-Earls, Ph.D.

Dr. Castilla-Earls' primary interests are language assessment and disorders in Spanish-speaking monolingual and bilingual children. Her current research is oriented to a) find grammatical markers of language impairments that are accurate and stable across various levels of bilingual proficiency, and b) examine current assessment practices in monolingual and bilingual children, and c) promote the systematic use of research-based practices in clinic and educational settings.

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Castilla

Stephanie Daniels, Ph.D., CCC-SLP

Dr. Daniels’ research is focused on understanding the neural underpinnings of swallowing as well as evidence-based evaluation and treatment of dysphagia in individuals with neurological disease. Recent funding through the Department of Veterans Affairs has facilitated identification of specific brain lesions associated with dysphagia in acute stroke patients. Current projects are focused on developing and validating a VA specific swallowing screening tool administered by nurses to identify risk of dysphagia in individuals with suspected stroke and to determine feasibility of implementation of such a tool in the emergency department.

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Daniels

Kia Noelle Johnson, Ph.D., CCC-SLP

Kia N. Johnson, PhD, CCC-SLP is an associate professor within the Department of Communication Sciences and Disorders at the University of Houston (Houston, TX).  She specializes in fluency disorders, with a specific focus on young children who stutter. Dr. Johnson’s current research interests include investigating the influences of temperamental variables on developmental stuttering in young children from a behavioral/observational and electrophysiological perspective.

The Stuttering Research Laboratory is currently recruiting children who DO and DO NOT stutter.  Click Here for more information.

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Kia

Ashwini Joshi, Ph.D., CCC-SLP

Brain Control of Voice Production

The primary focus of Dr. Joshi’s research is to understand the role of the brain in voice production and the changes seen in the brain as a result of disordered voice and its treatment.

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Joshi

Lynn M. Maher, Ph.D., CCC-SLP

Dr. Maher's research interests are in the area of brain-behavior relationships, specifically in the area of aphasia, an acquired language impairment secondary to stroke or other brain injury. Over the past decade she has explored the application of principles of neuroplasticity to aphasia rehabilitation. This line of research began in collaboration with her mentor, Dr. Leslie Gonzalez Rothi at the University of Florida, and addressed the constructs of errorless learning in rehabilitation and the impact of use dependent learning using constraint induced language therapy (CILT) in individuals with chronic aphasia. This line of research continues with a recent application to individuals in earlier phases of recovery. Other collaborations with colleagues at UT Medical School in Texas Medical Center utilizing magnetoencephalography (MEG) compared behavioral changes with changes in neural activity. In collaboration with Dr. Randi Martin from Rice University, Dr. Maher utilized inhibition training to facilitate word retrieval in aphasia.

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Maher

Amber Thiessen, Ph.D., CCC-SLP

Augmentative and Alternative Communication (AAC)

Dr. Thiessen's research focuses on creating effective augmentative and alternative communication (AAC) displays for adults with acquired brain injuries and other neurological conditions and improving treatment outcomes through communication partner/facilitator training. Her current research projects focus on measuring the visual attention patterns of adults with traumatic brain injury and aphasia when viewing grids and visual scene images.

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Thiesen
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