It’s on the tip of my tongue!
This idiom is typically exclaimed in frustration, when a person cannot think of a word. Occasionally, everyone wrestles with anomia — the inability to recall the right word.
“This can be really troubling for people who have anomia to the extent that they cannot form sentences or get their thoughts across,” said Elena Keltner, a doctoral student in the Communication Sciences and Disorders PhD program at UT Dallas.
Under the mentorship of Dr. John Hart, professor and Distinguished Chair in Neuroscience, Keltner conducts research that aims to determine the neural correlates behind a person’s search for semantic object memories — words or concepts in the brain. Using electroencephalogram (EEG), Keltner monitors a research participant’s brain and measures the electronic signals that occur when a person retrieves a word from semantic memory.
“If we can figure out how our brain does this normally, we can figure out what goes wrong in our brain when word-finding difficulties occur,” Keltner said. “If we can do that, we can use the research to help people clinically, to create speech therapies backed by research evidence.”
In speech-language therapy, when a patient struggles to recall a word such as “pen,” a speech-language pathologist may cue the patient by providing a “feature,” or descriptor, like “ink.” Keltner is working to determine the kinds of features that best and most quickly help patients recall words. Her goal is to translate this research into a speech therapy app that assists patients with their semantic retrieval.
“Elena’s clinical training in speech-language pathology combined with the neuroscience-based training she will receive as a graduate student provide her with a novel approach that will enable making unique and impactful advances in patient communication,” Hart said.
Keltner hopes her research may be used to treat adults with anomia caused by conditions including stroke, brain injury or other communication disorders.
“It kills me when people can’t talk to their children or grandchildren,” Keltner said. “I want to help people tell their stories and communicate with their loved ones.”
“ I want to help people tell their stories and communicate with their loved ones. ”-– Elena Keltner, doctoral student, Communication Sciences and Disorders PhD Program
Stories to Inspire
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- Dr. Jun Wang, Callier Center researcher
The Callier Center gives a voice to people who don’t have one, and the research of Dr. Jun Wang is a core part of that mission. Wang is developing a silent speech processor, in which a person’s lips and tongue movements will be recognized by a sensor and then translated into spoken words. When completed,...
- David Tolstyka, audiology graduate student
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- Addy DeWolfe
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- Meet Cole
The people at the Callier Center make me feel like I don't need to go through difficult times anymore.
- Meet Ashish
When I was in second grade, when I first got hearing aids, I could finally hear the teacher...Thank you Callier. You are my HEAR O.
- Meet Amy
Before, I felt abnormal. I didn't feel like who I was. Coming here, it was more like God sent me here. This is what I needed.
- Meet Graycie
Because of Callier, I can hear, and they just keep my super ears [hearing aids] going, so I don’t miss a thing.
- Meet Kourtnei
Kourtnei received a bone-conducting hearing aid and benefited from hearing services.
- Meet Jack
I used to go to Callier two times a week, and we used to do speech class. Two years ago, they said I’m done, because I have perfect speech.
- Meet Jackson
Diagnosed with permanent hearing loss, Jackson has cochlear implants that he calls his “magic ears.”
- See for Yourself: Callier’s Cochlear Implant Camp
Watch the video of Cochlear Implant Camp, where children who have cochlear implants receive listening and speech-language therapy while participating in fun camp activities.
- Callier Center Honors The Meadows Foundation, Celebrates a Longstanding Relationship
Learn about the relationship between The Meadows Foundation and the Callier Center that dates back to the formation of both organizations.