Learning Lab
M.S. Communication Sciences & Disorders

» Engineering therapies through research

+ - NeuroCognitive-Communication Lab

Over 2 million individuals sustain a traumatic brain injury (TBI) in the US annually. The increase in public awareness of sports-related and war-related TBI has brought this epidemic to the forefront. Most of these are concussions, yet many individuals experience life-changing cognitive, communication, and psycho-social consequences that affect their ability to return to school, go to work, resume their family roles, and participate fully in their community.

Despite this increase in public awareness, there remains much to learn about how TBI impacts ones life. In the NCCL we investigate the cognitive and communication disorders that result from brain injury using quantitative and qualitative methods. It is widely accepted that memory, attention and executive functions disorders are the result of TBI, including concussion. How these cognitive disorders impact everyday life and how speech-language pathologists can best evaluate and treat these cognitive impairments is the focus of the NCCL. Based on the World Health Organization’s International Classification Framework, Dr. Kennedy and graduate students are researching three areas that impact the ability to return to home, work and college:

  1. The validation of the use of interviews and surveys as assessment procedures that document everyday cognitive and communication disorders associated with brain injury, including those with post-concussion syndrome;
  2. The investigation of the effectiveness of dynamic coaching, developed by Dr. Kennedy, as an approach for improving outcomes of returning to school and returning to work after injury;
  3. The translation of research evidence into best clinical practices for assessing and treating individuals with brain injury.

Dr. Mary R.T. Kennedy
Location: Harry and Diane Rinker Health Science Campus

+ - Early Language and Cognitive Development Lab

Mary K. Fagan is an assistant professor in Communication Sciences and Disorders. She received her Ph.D. in Developmental Psychology from the University of Missouri and was an NIH postdoctoral fellow at Indiana University, School of Medicine. She has a master’s degree in Speech-Language Pathology. Dr. Fagan’s research centers broadly on infant development and investigates patterns and predictors in speech and language development, mother-infant interactions, and early exploration. In addition, she is interested in cognitive and pre-linguistic development in infants with hearing loss and in identifying interventions that promote word learning and vocabulary development in infants with profound hearing loss before and after they receive cochlear implants.

Dr. Mary Fagan
Location: Harry and Diane Rinker Health Science Campus

+ - Laboratory for Communication Diversity Across the Lifespan

Mission Statement

Our laboratory seeks to use innovative AAC and other Assistive Technologies to collaboratively answer research questions with clinical application for Individuals with developmental disabilities such as autism and intellectual disability and acquired disabilities such as Parkinson’s Disease across the lifespan who are diverse in their communication abilities.

Our mission is to improve competency in communication, and to aid these individuals to lead valued lives with equal access and social justice.

Research Themes

  1. Collaboration and Inclusion of Underrepresented Populations
  2. Use of Current AAC and other Assistive Technologies
  3. Knowledge Sharing Through Innovation

Research Priorities and Methodologies

  • Ensuring access to communication technology (e.g. AAC) for adults

with developmental and acquired disabilities using innovative curriculum development and training models

  • Conducting hearing screenings with clinical populations to detect undiagnosed and untreated hearing loss especially in geriatric populations
  • Analyzing social pragmatic and word learning skills in children and adolescents with autism, specific language impairment, and learning disability through eye gaze technology as well as cognitive and language testing

Dr. Deanna Hughes
Location: Harry and Diane Rinker Health Science Campus