RICHARDSON, Texas (Feb. 22, 2005) — Dr. William F. Katz, an associate professor of communication disorders in the School of Behavioral and Brain Sciences at The University of Texas at Dallas (UTD), has won a grant from the U. S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) to study apraxia of speech (AOS), a neurological disorder characterized by an inability to correctly produce speech, despite having the desire and physical ability to do so. Katz’s research will focus on brain damage resulting from strokes that cause difficulty coordinating speech movements.
Katz is a co-investigator on the $590,000 award, which will be a joint project involving UTD and the Dallas and Pittsburgh VA hospitals. The grant will be awarded over three years. UTD’s share will be approximately $300,000.
AOS generally results from dysfunction of the left cerebral hemisphere of the brain, especially in the parietal lobe and the inferior frontal lobe. The disease frequently is accompanied by a language disorder called aphasia, which is an impairment of the ability to produce or comprehend language.
Katz and the other researchers will work with a group of 20 adult apraxic/aphasic sufferers who will undergo baseline and kinematic training sessions lasting approximately eight to 17 weeks. Specifically, the researchers will evaluate the efficacy of a new technology called Electromagnetic Articulography, or EMA, in the remediation of AOS. EMA involves placing sensors in the patient’s mouth in order to track tongue movement during speech. EMA feedback allows apraxic/aphasic subjects an opportunity to observe their own tongue movements during speech, which appears to improve their speaking ability.
A long-term goal of Katz’s studies is to advance the understanding and treatment of speech and oral motor control following focal brain damage, and ultimately to offer alternative treatments for the condition.
AOS is generally considered a difficult disorder to treat. However, recent research has suggested that individuals with AOS and other forms of apraxia may benefit from direct motor training methods.
Katz joined UTD in 1990. He received his Ph.D. in linguistics from Brown University, worked as a National Institutes of Health-sponsored post-doctorate researcher at the University of California, San Diego, and was a Fulbright Scholar in Konstanz, Germany.
The University of Texas at Dallas, located at the convergence of Richardson, Plano and Dallas in the heart of the complex of major multinational technology corporations known as the Telecom Corridor®, enrolls more than 14,000 students. The school’s freshman class traditionally stands at the forefront of Texas state universities in terms of average SAT scores. The university offers a broad assortment of bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral degree programs. For additional information about UTD, please visit the university’s web site at www.utdallas.edu.