Date of Award


Document Type

Open Access Dissertation


Communication Sciences and Disorders

First Advisor

Julius Fridriksson


Purpose: This project characterized eye movements of individuals with aphasia and age-matched participants during reading and scene viewing.

Methods: Individuals with aphasia (N=24) and age-matched controls participants (N=24) completed three eye tracking studies. Study 1 examined task-related changes in eye movements for scene search, scene memorization, text-reading, and pseudoreading. Ex-Gaussian, analysis of variance, and correlational analyses were used to compare differences in eye movements across tasks and participant groups. Study 2 examined how oculomotor and linguistic processing influence eye movements for textreading and pseudo-reading. In addition to the statistical analyses used in Study 1, four case studies were carried out in Study 2. Three persons with phonological-deep alexia and one with surface alexia were separately compared to age-matched controls. Study 3 compared several eye tracking measures during scene memorization and scene search in persons with aphasia and their normal counterparts.

Results: Study 1 showed similar eye movement patterns in the participant groups across tasks. In contrast, the group analyses in Study 2 revealed mixed results across groups and tasks. The case analyses included in Study 2 highlighted individual differences in eye movements between persons with phonological-deep alexia and age-matched controls, whereas eye movements in the individual with surface alexia was similar to the control group. Study 3 showed that eye movement patterns during scene perception are similar in individuals with aphasia and to age-matched controls.

Conclusions: The consistent pattern of eye movements across the two study groups suggests either intact neural mechanisms that support eye movement control in persons with aphasia or that the eye movement measures used here lacked sensitivity to detect group differences. Differential patterns of eye movements within and across alexia subtypes suggest underlying neurological damage is contributing to eye movement patterns.


© 2015, Kimberly G. Smith