Brain Empowerment Laboratory

Seeking Adults with Aphasia Memory, Attention, and Language Study

Aphasia is a loss of language abilities (expressing oneself and understanding others) due to a neurological cause, usually stroke. It is not a loss of intellect.

We seek people with aphasia for a study on memory and attentional abilities during sentence comprehension. Using noninvasive methods, we record pupil size as people listen to sentences and perform memory and attention tasks.

Dove in a colorful watercolor

Springfield College is proud to announce a new research partnership with Loomis Lakeside at Reeds Landing retirement community in Springfield, Mass. A new initiative called the Springfield College Brain Empowerment Laboratory will foster strengths-based, life-enhancing approaches to brain function in older adults and in people with disabilities. The College will have dedicated research space at Loomis Lakeside. A parallel lab using the same name will be housed in the Health Sciences Center on the Springfield College main campus.

The Laboratory and the Springfield College/Loomis Lakeside partnership will enable interdisciplinary collaboration in research across a wide array of areas of expertise, including physical therapy, occupational therapy, speech language pathology, exercise physiology, athletic training, art therapy, counseling, and psychology.

The first study, currently underway, involves people with aphasia, a challenge with language ability, usually due to stroke. Funding for the study comes from a grant to Springfield College that was awarded to Dean of the School of Health Science and Rehabilitation Services Brooke Hallowell from Epstein Teicher Philanthropies.

Mohammad Haghighi, who specializes in aphasia, is currently in residence as a Springfield College visiting scholar. A PhD student from Ohio University, Haghighi is coordinating scheduling and is the principal investigator on the current study.

Future plans for the partnership include offering of clinical services, hosting students in residence, offering service-learning programs related to empowering approaches to aging, mentoring programs, and intergenerational programs in theater, music, and art.

This study will improve our understanding of aphasia. It will also help us develop methods for better assessing comprehension in people with aphasia. You may participate if:

  • You have aphasia
  • You are between the ages of 18-89
  • You are not currently pregnant
  • You have at least a high school diploma
  • Your native language / only language you use on a daily basis is American English
  • You had a stroke, and it was at least 3 months ago
  • You have no history of speech, language, learning, or developmental impairment prior to your stroke
  • You pass a hearing and vision screening

Total participation time is about 2.5 to 3.5 hours, which can be scheduled over two sessions. You will complete free heath, vision, hearing, and language screenings and your results will be shared with you. You will listen to words and sentences as well as see colored shapes while watching a computer screen. Then you will complete a sentence comprehension task by pointing to pictures.

The study will take place at the Springfield College Brain Empowerment Laboratory, housed in Loomis Lakeside at Reeds Landing.