Previous studies have examined the effect of atypical speech pause on conversational fluency and how the conversational listener perceives the speaker. The present study investigated the effect of pause duration of increasing length and in differing sentential locations on listener perceptions of communicative effectiveness and speaker likability. One neurotypical male and one neurotypical female speaker recorded three sentences from the Quick Aphasia Battery, and artificial pauses of varying lengths (250 ms, 400 ms, 550 ms, 700 ms, 850 ms, and 1 sec) were inserted before the subject, verb, and object of each sentence. The six baseline (unmodified) sentences were also included among the stimuli. These samples were randomly interspersed among foil samples that consisted of 30-second recordings of six people with fluent and nonfluent aphasia of mild to moderate severity. Forty adult participants (24 females and 16 males) listened to and rated the modified and foil samples for communicative effectiveness and the perception of likability of the speaker. A review of the data revealed that pause location may negatively impact speaker likability depending on the gender of the speaker. However, due to the small sample size of speakers (one male and one female) and factors that were not controlled for in this study (e.g., speaker pitch, speech rate, resonance, articulation patterns), these results require validation through further research that utilizes a larger sample. As pause duration increased, both speaker likability and communicative effectiveness ratings decreased. These findings suggest that monitoring pause duration and location in preliminary fluency samples could be beneficial to assess fluency severity and determine appropriate treatment goals. Wordfinding treatment may want to focus on vocabulary words that serve the function of subjects and objects in sentences. Although there are limitations in the methodology and results of this preliminary study, it is hoped that this study combined with future research can help to inform assessment and treatment of people with aphasia and other neurophysiological disorders that lead to atypical pause.



College and Department

David O. McKay School of Education; Communication Disorders



Date Submitted


Document Type





aphasia, cognitive pause, perceptual fluency, artificial pause



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Education Commons