Research in Speech-Language Pathology

Strategic lines of research at the University of Turku Speech-Language Pathology

Research conducted at the University of Turku Speech-Language Pathology centers around two strategic lines. The first line focuses on cognitive, neural and biological underpinnings of speech and language processing as well as its disorders. The second line examines the environmental factors that shape speech and language skills. The knowledge produced by our scientists is of pure scientific interest, but also has important societal implications. Speech and language disorders are known to be associated with negative academic, social, employment and mental health outcomes. Understanding the factors underlying these processes allows us to change our society in a way that these negative outcomes can be reduced or eliminated.

Research projects

Cognitive predictors of children’s bilingual development

Our international collaboration investigates cognitive predictors of immigrant children’s first and second language abilities in Toronto Canada. This work is led by Elina Mainela-Arnold ( The international collaborators are Ji Sook Park and Luigi Girolametto at the University of Toronto , and Carol Miller, Janet van Hell and Daniel Weiss at the Penn State Center for Language Science. This work is funded by the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada, University of Toronto Connaught Fund and Penn State Social Science Research Institute.

FinnBrain Speech and Language Substudy

FinnBrain Speech and Language Substudy examines biological and environmental factors contributing to individual differences in children’s speech and language development. This project is a collaboration with FinnBrain investigators and The Centre of Excellence for Learning Dynamics and Intervention Research.

The Speech and Language Substudy is led by Elina Mainela-Arnold (memaar(at) Participating children’s visits are implemented by undergraduate students and PhD candidates. Several dissertations are in preparation, and master's theses are also carried out in the project.

Language Processing in Adults (LaPA)

Language Processing in Adults (LaPA) is a project focusing on normal and pathological language processing in adults. The ultimate aim could be summarised as developing theoretically motivated, clinically possible, and functionally relevant assessment methods and intervention programs particularly for people with acquired language disorders (e.g., aphasia and Alzheimer’s disease). As language in adulthood is not a static system but may change due to various factors, we are also curious about the effects of multilingualism and possible support needed for culturally and linguistically diverse (CLD) populations. To fulfill our research aims we conduct both basic and applied research. The project is led by Dr Kati Renvall ( Currently, we have two PhD candidates (Ida Luotonen and Nana Lehtinen) and a number of undergraduate speech-pathology students working in the project.

Communication skills after traumatic brain injury

The aim of this study is to find out what kind of cognitive-communication disorders patients with traumatic brain injury have and how these disorders are connected with DTI (diffuse tensor imaging) measures of white matter tracts. This study is led by Marjaana Raukola-Lindblom. All participants will be evaluated by a speech-language pathologist, psychologist, and neuroradiologist (DTI). The study is carried out in collaboration with Turku Brain Injury Centre, Turku University Hospital; Terveystalo Medical Center, Turku; and City of Turku Welfare division, Psychosocial services. Also several Master's theses are being completed in this research area.

Metacognitive awareness of self-produced speech: From neural mechanisms to evidence-based clinical interventions

Brain adjusts the way we speak based on auditory feedback. This can happen automatically (e.g., you speak louder in a noisy environment), but sometimes speech needs to be voluntarily adjusted (e.g., you are trying to learn novel foreign phonemes). How individuals adjust their speech voluntarily based on conscious perception remains poorly understood. This is a key gap in knowledge because some patients (e.g., Parkinson’s disease) have trouble noticing their own speech deficit, and therefore have difficulties correcting it.

This project lead by Henry Railo examines how humans notice that the way they speak does not match their intention, and investigates what electrophysiological processes correlate with automatic and voluntary auditory speech feedback control. We also study how these factors affect speech in Parkinson’s disease, and if voice therapy helps the patients to better notice their speech deficit.

The project is funded by the Academy of Finland (1.9.2022—31.12.2026).  

Latest publications

Arvioinnin monet kasvot - teoriasta kohti käytänteitä (2024)

Puheen ja kielen tutkimuksen yhdistyksen julkaisuja
Savolainen Irina, Hautala Terhi, Martikainen Anu, Toivola Minnaleena, Tolonen Anna-Kaisa, Vastamäki Essi
(Editorship of a scientific special issue, book or conference proceedings (C2))