aphasia, attention, speech fluency, stroke, cognition, fluency, executive functions


Purpose: To determine dual task effects on content accuracy, delivery speed, and perceived effort during narrative discourse in people with moderate, mild, or no aphasia and to explore subjective reactions to retelling a story with a concurrent task.

Method: Two studies (one quantitative and one qualitative) were conducted. In study 1, participants with mild or moderate aphasia and neurotypical controls retold short stories in isolation and while simultaneously distinguishing between high and low tones. Story retell accuracy (speech productivity and efficiency), speed (speech rate, repetitions, and pauses), and perceived effort were measured and compared. In study 2, participants completed semi-structured interviews about their story retell experience. These interviews were recorded, transcribed orthographically, and coded qualitatively using thematic analysis.

Results: The dual task interfered more with spoken language of people with aphasia (PWA) than controls but different speed-accuracy trade-off patterns were noted. Participants in the moderate aphasia group reduced accuracy with little alteration to speed, whereas participants in the mild aphasia group maintained accuracy and reduced their speed. Participants in both groups also reported more negative emotional and behavioral reactions to the dual task condition than their neurotypical peers. Intentional strategies for coping with the cognitive demands of the dual task condition were only reported by participants with mild aphasia.

Conclusion: The findings suggest that while communicating with a competing task is more difficult for PWA than neurotypical controls, participants with mild aphasia may be better able to cope with cognitively demanding communication situations than participants with moderate aphasia.

Original Publication Citation

Harmon, T. G., Jacks, A., Haley, K. L., & Bailliard, A. (2019). Dual-task effects on story retell for participants with moderate, mild, or no aphasia: Quantitative and qualitative findings. Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research, 62(6), 1890–1905.

Document Type

Peer-Reviewed Article

Publication Date


Permanent URL


American Speech-Language-Hearing Association




David O. McKay School of Education


Communication Disorders

University Standing at Time of Publication

Assistant Professor