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About the Lab

The ALL-CAN-Converse Lab believes that all people have the need to converse and connect with others. This philosophy drives our research investigating everyday conversational interactions in people with aphasia.

Conversation is critically important for well-being, because it is how we express who we are (our identities) and helps us make sense of our lives and experiences. We achieve this by using all of our communicative resources (speech, gestures, writing, drawing, etc.) to share our stories, opinions, hopes and dreams with others. Aphasia can have a dramatic impact on these crucial functions of conversation, causing difficulty for people with aphasia and their communication partners.

The Research

Our research uses foundational literature about how and why conversation occurs in people without aphasia to better understand how we can create therapy programs infused with personally relevant, purposeful and meaningful conversational opportunities for people with aphasia. In addition, we use this framework for understanding individual strengths and challenges people with aphasia have during conversation, and how and why aphasia contributes to communication breakdowns during conversational interactions.

We have deep interest in researching and better understanding how speech-language pathologists, people with aphasia and their routine communication partners can intentionally leverage lifelong implicit knowledge about conversation so as to be more effective communicators with one another. Relatedly, we are also highly invested in understanding how clinicians can create therapeutic interactions that prioritize opportunities for people with aphasia to express themselves.

For instance, during conversation, even short silences cause one of the speakers to fill the space. In one of our recent projects, we investigated how the speech-language pathologist could make use of this spontaneous phenomenon to create opportunities for self-expression for their partners with aphasia. We trained clinicians to refrain from filling spaces caused by pauses in the conversation. This intentional, therapeutic choice by the speech-language pathologist resulted in the person with aphasia having the opportunity to produce more language because they are operating under the same implicit rule to minimize pausing in conversation.

Learn more about our current projects and how to participate in a research study.

About the Lab's Director

photo of Marion LeamanMarion Leaman, Ph.D., CCC-SLP, is an assistant professor in the Department of Hearing and Speech at KU Medical Center. She conducts research focused on aphasia intervention that has the goal to improve real world everyday conversation for people with aphasia and their families. 

She is currently investigating mechanisms in social conversations that provide spontaneous opportunities for complex and personally meaningful communication by the person with aphasia. Concurrently, she is piloting an intervention in which clinicians embed these mechanisms as therapeutic techniques in conversation to drive change in language and communication.

View Dr. Leaman's bio

KU School of Health Professions