Using Pupillometry to Measure Cognitive Effort During a Task of Inhibition in People with Aphasia

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  • Background: Aphasia is a communication disorder resulting from stroke, characterized by difficulty speaking, listening, reading and writing. Recent evidence suggests that persons with aphasia (PWA) can exhibit impairments in cognition, such as inhibition. Inhibition is the ability to suppress irrelevant information, which is important in decision-making and self-regulation. Measuring cognitive performance in PWA is difficult due to the linguistic demands of many cognitive tests. The spatial Stroop task is a nonverbal test of inhibition that is appropriate for use with PWA. Measures of pupil size (i.e. pupillometry) can be used in conjunction with cognitive tasks to index cognitive effort. Purpose: The purpose of this study is to examine the performance and cognitive effort of PWA on the spatial Stroop task using pupillometry. Methods: In this study, PWA (n = 16) and age- and education-matched controls (n = 16) completed the spatial Stroop task. Performance was compared between groups on three measures: 1) accuracy; 2) reaction time; and 3) change in pupil size. Results: There was no significant difference between measures of accuracy for PWA and controls. PWA had significantly larger reaction times and greater pupil dilation across all three trial types. Conclusions: Results suggest that PWA perform similarly in accuracy for tasks of inhibition but require more time and effort to do so.

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    Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International