Critical ingredients of aphasia therapy

Critical ingredients of multilevel aphasia therapies measured through change in language, cognition and functional brain connectivity

Degree type


Closing date

25 September 2023



Citizenship requirement

Domestic / International

About the research project

This program of research aims to (1) compare two multilevel language interventions for people with post-stroke aphasia via change to language and cognition, (2) identify critical ingredients of treatment that will enhance transfer of skills learnt in therapy to everyday functional use, and (3) understand variability seen in response to therapy for post-stroke aphasia. The PhD program will carry out an RCT comparing a novel multilevel (word, sentence and discourse-level) language intervention, Narrative Treatment in Aphasia (NARNIA) (Whitworth et al, 2015), that has been developed by the supervisory team – Whitworth and Cartwright [UTAS] and Webster [UK] that has demonstrated the most promising evidence of generalised gains in everyday communication to date, with a current best practice protocol which aims to strengthen language connections between words within sentences (VNeST). NARNIA’s unique integration of language within everyday communication is hypothesised to be critical to success.

A subgroup of participants will be explored at a neurobiological level, measuring change in functional brain networks, in collaboration with the team at the NHMRC funded Centre for Research Excellence in Aphasia Recovery and Rehabilitation at University of Queensland. Mapping neural recruitment and change in resting-state functional connectivity (RSFC) of language and cognitive networks will enable us to explore variability and predict who is most responsive to different interventions. Professor David Copland’s team, including Dr Sonia Brownsett, from the NHMRC funded Centre for Research Excellence in Aphasia Recovery and Rehabilitation (Whitworth and Cartwright are affiliates of the Centre) and the Queensland Aphasia Research centre, will be steering the structural and fMRI component of the study, with plans to collaborate with the Menzies Institute of Medical Research. This study will leverage to other projects that are being planned as a larger program of work in collaboration with both the Menzies and the Wicking Dementia Research and Education Centre.

Primary Supervisor

Meet Prof Anne Whitworth


Applicants will be considered for a Research Training Program (RTP) scholarship or Tasmania Graduate Research Scholarship (TGRS) which, if successful, provides:

  • a living allowance stipend of $31,500 per annum (2023 rate, indexed annually) for 3.5 years
  • a relocation allowance of up to $2,000
  • a tuition fees offset covering the cost of tuition fees for up to four years (domestic applicants only)

If successful, international applicants will receive a University of Tasmania Fees Offset for up to four years.

As part of the application process you may indicate if you do not wish to be considered for scholarship funding.

Other funding opportunities and fees

For further information regarding other scholarships on offer, and the various fees of undertaking a research degree, please visit our Scholarships and fees on research degrees page.


Applicants should review the Higher Degree by Research minimum entry requirements.

Ensure your eligibility for the scholarship round by referring to our Key Dates.

Additional eligibility criteria specific to this project/scholarship:

  • Applications are open to Domestic and International applicants. Applicants must be onshore
  • Applicants must have a Bachelor or Masters level qualification in Speech Pathology (some applicants with a Psychological Sciences qualification may be suitable)
  • Applicants must have an English language score of 7.5 or above (IELTS), with no band below 7.5

Selection Criteria

The project is competitively assessed and awarded.  Selection is based on academic merit and suitability to the project as determined by the College.

Additional essential selection criteria specific to this project:

  • Clinical experience with acquired neurological populations
  • High standard of spoken and written communication skills

Additional desirable selection criteria specific to this project:

  • Postgraduate clinical experience with acquired neurological populations
  • Experience with functional imaging

Application process

  1. Select your project, and check that you meet the eligibility and selection criteria, including citizenship;
  2. Contact Prof Anne Whitworth to discuss your suitability and the project's requirements; and
  3. In your application:
    • Copy and paste the title of the project from this advertisement into your application. If you don’t correctly do this your application may be rejected.
    • Submit a signed supervisory support form, a CV including contact details of 2 referees and your project research proposal.
  4. Apply prior to 25 September 2023.

Full details of the application process can be found under the 'How to apply' section of the Research Degrees website.

Following the closing date applications will be assessed within the College. Applicants should expect to receive notification of the outcome by email by the advertised outcome date.

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