aphasia, stroke, emotion, attention, stress


Purpose: To investigate how emotional arousal and valence affect confrontational naming accuracy and response time in people with mild to moderate aphasia compared with adults without aphasia. We hypothesized that negative and positive emotions would facilitate naming for people with aphasia but lead to slower responses for adults with no aphasia.

Method: Eight participants with mild to moderate aphasia, 15 older adults, and 17 young adults completed a confrontational naming task across three conditions (positive, negative, neutral) in an ABA case series design. Immediately following each naming condition, participants self-reported their perceived arousal and pleasure. Accuracy and response time were measured and compared.

Results: As expected, people with aphasia performed significantly less accurately and with longer response times than both young and older adult groups across all conditions. However, opposite our hypothesis for the aphasia group, the negative condition resulted in decreased accuracy for the aphasia as well as the older adult group and increased response time across all groups. No statistically significant differences were found between the positive and any other condition. Participants with aphasia who demonstrated an effect in the negative condition were observed to produce a larger proportion of semantically related errors than any other error types.

Conclusions: Findings suggest that strong negative emotions can interfere with semantic-lexical processing by diverting attentional resources to emotion regulation. Both clinicians and researchers should be aware of the potential influence of negative stimuli and negative emotional states on language performance for people with aphasia and these effects should be disentangled in future research. Further research should also be conducted with a larger number of participants with aphasia across a broader range of severity to replicate and extend findings.

Original Publication Citation

Harmon, T. G., Nielsen, C., Loveridge, C., Williams, C. (2022). Effects of positive and negative emotion on picture naming for people with mild to moderate aphasia: A preliminary investigation. Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research, 64(3), 1025-1043.

Document Type

Peer-Reviewed Article

Publication Date



American Speech-Language-Hearing Association




David O. McKay School of Education


Communication Disorders

University Standing at Time of Publication

Assistant Professor