Decision-making and aphasia

  • Author / Creator
    Suleman, Salima
  • BACKGROUND. Making one’s own decisions is an important component of autonomy and expression of one’s identity. After an individual has a stroke or other neurological injury, he or she may experience a disruption to their ability to speak, understand, read, and or write (aphasia). Furthermore, people with aphasia may experience a disruption to their cognitive abilities (e.g., ability to temporarily remember things, ability to pay attention, and their ability to think and reason). Disruptions to language and cognition could negatively impact an individual’s ability to make decisions and/or the individual’s ability to demonstrate their ability to make decisions. However, little is currently known about the true decision-making abilities of people with aphasia. PURPOSE. The purpose of this study was twofold: 1) to compare performances between people with and without aphasia on decision-making tasks; and, 2) to test a theoretical framework of impaired and intact cognitive decision-making in people with and without aphasia. METHODS. The performance of people with aphasia (n = 16) and age- and education-matched controls (n = 16) was compared on three measures of decision-making; one linguistic, and two non-linguistic. While participants completed the IGT, we used an eye-tracker to concurrently collect pupil size data. Eye-tracking data provided real-time information about cognitive and emotional arousal. Participants with and without aphasia also completed a neuropsychological test battery consisting of behavioural measures of language, working memory, and executive function. The data collected in this study were used to: 1) compare performance between people with and without aphasia on different measures of decision-making using a quasi-experimental design; and, 2) explore associations between measures of cognition and measures of decision-making using an exploratory research design. RESULTS. People with aphasia performed worse than control participants on a linguistic test of decision-making. Language impairments largely accounted for the differential performance between people with and without aphasia. The results of this study were inconclusive regarding non-linguistic measures of decision-making. Therefore, the idea that non-linguistic decision-making is impaired in people with aphasia is neither refuted nor endorsed based on these data. Performance on linguistic and non-linguistic decision-making was predicted by performance on tasks of inhibition, attention, and problem solving. Further investigation is necessary. RECOMMENDATIONS. Decision-making is an important part of daily living and life engagement, and should be addressed and supported in rehabilitation by speech-language pathologists and other healthcare professionals. Assessments of decision-making capacity should include communication supports for people with acquired communication disorders; further investigation in the area of decision-making and aphasia is needed.

  • Subjects / Keywords
  • Graduation date
    Spring 2017
  • Type of Item
  • Degree
    Doctor of Philosophy
  • DOI
  • License
    This thesis is made available by the University of Alberta Libraries with permission of the copyright owner solely for non-commercial purposes. This thesis, or any portion thereof, may not otherwise be copied or reproduced without the written consent of the copyright owner, except to the extent permitted by Canadian copyright law.