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

Right Hemisphere Brain Damage (RHD)

Treatment for Language Processing Deficits in Adults with Right Brain Damage

In conjunction with Dr. Connie Tompkins at the University of Pittsburgh, we are conducting a Phase II study of a novel, implicit language treatment. The training is designed to target two language deficits observed in adults with RHD, namely a Coarse Coding deficit and a Suppression deficit.

Contextual Cues and Comprehension in Adults with Right Hemisphere Brain Damage

There is conflicting evidence regarding how well adults with RHD use contextual cues during comprehension processes. Current studies are systematically evaluating how these individuals use different types of contextual cues to facilitate comprehension.

Traumatic Brain Injury

My current research projects examine the idea of cognitive rest as part of management of sports concussion  and developing cognitive strategy training groups for veterans with mTBI related to blast-exposure.

View Dr. Blake's faculty profile »

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.

View Dr. Bunta's faculty profile »

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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Martha Dunkelberger, Ph.D., CCC-SLP

Raising a Reader

An investigation of predictable outcomes of parent education on children in Head Start programs across the city of Houston. The interaction between phonological and literacy development and disorders.

COMD Learning Community

A program designed to improve at-risk students’ opportunities for success in college.  Successful Juniors and Seniors are trained to mentor Sophomore and Freshman students in COMD with focus on campus engagement, self-advocacy and executive function development.

 

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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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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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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.

 

View Dr. Thiessen's faculty profile