A prevalent feature of typical spontaneous speech are speech pauses. Longer speech pauses, known as cognitive pauses, occur in typical speech and are indicative of higher-level cognitive processes. Atypical cognitive pauses, however, are prevalent in the speech of people with aphasia consequent to their communication disorder. Research has shown that these atypical pauses may contribute to negative listener perceptions. This study aimed to determine the influence of atypical speech pause on listener perceptions of communicative effectiveness and speaker likeability. Specifically, this study evaluated the relationship between listener ratings of communicative effectiveness and likeability and acoustic measures of between-utterance pause duration, within-utterance pause duration, and the location of within-utterance pauses. This study also examined the relationship between listener ratings of communicative effectiveness and likeability. Target stimuli included 30-second samples of speech from two individuals with mild aphasia and four with moderate aphasia. Using a visual analog scale, 40 adult listeners listened to these speech samples and rated each sample according to the speaker's communicative effectiveness and likeability. Overall, listeners were not as sensitive to between-utterance pauses. While listeners were more sensitive to within-utterance pauses greater than one second, they were similarly impacted by within-utterance pauses between 250-999 milliseconds. Listeners were also more affected by pauses at the beginning of an utterance than at the end of an utterance. Results also demonstrated a strong positive correlation between listener ratings of communicative effectiveness and likeability. In general, results suggest that the location and length of pauses in the speech of people with aphasia have an impact on listeners' perceptions. In combination with future research, the results of this study will provide a deeper understanding of the impact of cognitive pause in people with aphasia, thus improving future clinical assessment and treatment of aphasia.



College and Department

David O. McKay School of Education; Communication Disorders



Date Submitted


Document Type





cognitive pause, aphasia, communicative effectiveness, likeability