Performance Variability as a Predictor of Response to Aphasia Treatment

E. Susan Duncan, Tanya Schmah, Steven L. Small

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

22 Scopus citations


Background. Performance variability in individuals with aphasia is typically regarded as a nuisance factor complicating assessment and treatment. Objective. We present the alternative hypothesis that intraindividual variability represents a fundamental characteristic of an individual's functioning and an important biomarker for therapeutic selection and prognosis. Methods. A total of 19 individuals with chronic aphasia participated in a 6-week trial of imitation-based speech therapy. We assessed improvement both on overall language functioning and repetition ability. Furthermore, we determined which pretreatment variables best predicted improvement on the repetition test. Results. Significant gains were made on the Western Aphasia Battery-Revised (WAB) Aphasia Quotient, Cortical Quotient, and 2 subtests as well as on a separate repetition test. Using stepwise regression, we found that pretreatment intraindividual variability was the only predictor of improvement in performance on the repetition test, with greater pretreatment variability predicting greater improvement. Furthermore, the degree of reduction in this variability over the course of treatment was positively correlated with the degree of improvement. Conclusions. Intraindividual variability may be indicative of potential for improvement on a given task, with more uniform performance suggesting functioning at or near peak potential.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)876-882
Number of pages7
JournalNeurorehabilitation and Neural Repair
Issue number9
StatePublished - Oct 1 2016
Externally publishedYes


  • aphasia
  • intraindividual variability
  • language
  • speech therapy
  • stroke

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Rehabilitation
  • Neurology
  • Clinical Neurology


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