A controlled study of changes in conversation following aphasia therapy for anomia
This paper investigates the relationship between change in picture naming with anomia therapy and changes in word retrieval in conversations between adults with aphasia and a regular conversational partner. We present data from two therapy projects (Hickin et al. [] and Best et al. []). In each study, therapy involved cueing with the aim of improving retrieval of a set of nouns. Naming of the experimental items was assessed twice prior to therapy and again immediately afterwards. There was a significant change in word finding, as measured by picture naming, for the group and for 11 of the 13 participants. At the same time points, we collected conversations between the person with aphasia and a regular conversational partner. We analysed these using Profile of Word Errors and Retrieval in Speech (Herbert et al. []) and investigated a set of conversational variables predicted to change with therapy. Unsurprisingly, the conversation data is not straightforward. There is no significant change on the conversation measures for the group but some changes for individuals. We predicted change in word retrieval after therapy would relate to change in everyday conversations and tested this by correlating the change (post-therapy minus mean pre-therapy) in picture naming with the change in conversation variables. There was a significant positive relationship between the change in picture naming and change in some conversation measures including the number of nouns produced in 5 min of conversation (r == 0.50, p < 0.05, one-tailed) and the number of nouns produced per substantive turn (r == 0.55, p < 0.05, one-tailed). The findings suggest changes in word finding following therapy for aphasia can be reflected in changes in conversation. The clinical implications of the complex results are explored.