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The impact of visual images on verbal fluency for people living with dementia

   Faculty of Health Studies

About the Project

We know that ability to find and produce words is often affected for people who have dementia. At present we know much less about how speech and language might improve for people with dementia when communication is facilitated using visual approaches such as photo-elicitation, digital storytelling, participatory video, and photo-diary methods. A number of previous research studies suggest that when people living with dementia are looking at visual images their speech becomes more fluent; they appear to be more able to express themselves clearly, find the right words, and use a wider variety of words than when they are not looking at pictures. At present, however, there is no way of accurately recording these changes.

The main aims of this studentship are to:

  • Investigate systematically, using both qualitative and quantitative methods, the impact of visual images on the speech of people living with dementia
  • Develop a prototype assessment which can be used to evaluate different visual methods and/or resources for use in dementia practice and research.

We may consider requests for this PhD project to be studied by Distance Learning.

We are looking for applicants with a good Bachelors degree (2:1 or above) and/or a Masters degree in social or health sciences, who can demonstrate some knowledge of qualitative and/or mixed research methods. Some experience of working - in a paid or voluntary capacity - with adult service users in a health or social care context would be essential.

Funding Notes

This is a self-funded PhD project; applicants will be expected to pay their own fees or have a suitable source of third-party funding. UK students may be able to access the Doctoral Loan from Student Finance.


Capstick A, Ludwin K, Chatwin J, and Walters E R (2016) Participatory video and well-being in long-term care. Journal of dementia care, 24 (1): 26-29.

Evans D, Robertson J, and Candy A (2016) Use of photovoice with people with younger onset dementia. Dementia, 15 (4): 798-813.

Murphy J and Oliver T (2012) The use of Talking Mats to support people with dementia and their carers to make decisions together. Health and Social Care in the Community, 21(2) 171-180.

Shell (2014) Photo-Elicitation with Autodriving in Research with Individuals with Mild to Moderate Alzheimer's Disease: Advantages and Challenges, Dementia 13 (1): 170-184.

Stenhouse R, Tait J, Hardy P and Sumner T (2013) Dangling conversations: Reflections on the process of creating digital stories during a workshop with people with early-stage dementia. Journal of Psychiatric and Mental Health Nursing 20(2): 134-141.

Subramaniam P, Woods B and Whitaker C (2014) Life review and life story books for people with mild to moderate dementia: a randomised controlled trial. Aging and Mental Health, 18(3): 363–375.

Weakley A and Schmitter-Edgecombe M (2014) Analysis of verbal fluency ability in Alzheimer's disease: the role of clustering, switching and semantic proximities. Archives of Clinical Neuropsychology. 29: 256-68.

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