Research in speech and language pathology (logopedics)

1) Speech and language acquisition

Speech and language pathology at the University of Turku has long traditions in investigating neural basis of speech and language and their disorders. The main aim has been to explore factors affecting and predicting early language acquisition using both neurocognitive and behavioural methods. The cohort study Steps to the Healthy Development and Well-being of Children (the STEPS Study) is a multidisciplinary longitudinal study of the physical, psychological, and social development of children, starting from pregnancy and continuing until adolescence. The cohort study PIPARI has investigated infants and children born very prematurely.

2) Autism spectrum disorders

Neural and cognitive basis of autism spectrum disorders have been investigated as part of the Genetic Study of High Functioning Autism and Asperger's Syndrome in Finland at the University Hospital of Oulu.

3) Speech fluency and its disorders

Normal speech fluency and its disorders (stuttering) has been investigated both in national and international collaboration. We investigate the neural basis of stuttering by using neurocognitive methods. Our aim is also to define the range of normal fluency from 2 years of age up to 9 years of age. In addition, we translate assessment methods from English to Finnish to evaluate stuttering and speaker's experience of stuttering.

4) Adult neurogenic communication disorders
In the field of acquired aphasia research, our research has focused on exploring language phenomena using cognitive neuropsychological approach and conversation analysis (CA) methodology. The aphasia treatment studies show that massed practice involving naming and repetition has long-lasting beneficial effects in aphasic naming of both concrete nouns and abstract emotive adjectives (e.g., hilarious, ecstatic, boring, furious). The focus of conversation analytic study of aphasia has been to show how people with aphasia manage their everyday interactions and how their participation in these interactions could be improved. In a few studies, we have investigated neural mechanisms of naming in healthy and aphasic elderly. In the future, we aim to broaden our research area to neural and behavioural mechanisms of language in people with dementia and traumatic brain injury. Currently, we are collecting normative data on a number of new Finnish assessment tasks. Please note that we provide tools for identifying functionally relevant words for adult speakers in English and in Finnish.
5) Multilingualism and multiculturalism
Multilingualism and its connections to language development and its disorders has been explored in several master’s theses. As immigration poses great challenges to the current society, a pilot study on language intervention by multilingual children with immigrant backgrounds has been started in collaboration with the city of Turku in autumn 2015. Its aim is to find out whether early language intervention at the day care helps the children to acquire better language proficiency in Finnish. Earlier proficiency in Finnish would facilitate the integration to the Finnish society and enable better educational success.
Keywords: speech and language pathology; communication disorders, assessment of speech and language, treatment of speech and language, neurocognitive methods, early language acquisition, autism spectrum disorders, speech fluency, stuttering, acquired aphasia, multilingualism and multiculturalism