Garden-Path Effects and Recovery in Aphasia

Yoo, Hyunsoo and Dickey, Michael W. (2014) Garden-Path Effects and Recovery in Aphasia. [Clinical Aphasiology Paper]

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How people resolve and recover from syntactic ambiguity has been a central research topic in the psycholinguistic literature on sentence comprehension. It has attracted less attention in the literature on communicative impairments. However, there is increasing evidence that brain damage can affect how adults understand syntactically ambiguous sentences, both for right-hemisphere brain damage (e.g., Schneiderman & Saddy, 1988) and left-hemisphere damage (e.g., Novick, Trueswell & Thompson-Schill, 2005). Understanding how persons with aphasia (PWA) comprehend syntactically ambiguous sentences is therefore important to evaluating their communicative function, specifically their sentence comprehension ability. Syntactically ambiguous sentences are often referred to as garden-path sentences (Bever, 1970). These sentences lead comprehenders “down the garden path”: they cause readers or listeners to briefly misinterpret an ambiguous word or phrase, initially misanalyzing its syntactic role in the sentence. Subsequent information then indicates that this initial interpretation was incorrect, forcing comprehenders to reinterpret the sentence. This garden-path effect has been consistently found in healthy young and older adults (Christianson, et al., 2001, 2006; Ferreira & Henderson, 1991; Frazier & Rayner, 1982). Syntactic ambiguity resolution may be particularly strongly affected by reduced cognitive function such as reduced working memory (WM), common in healthy aging (e.g., Christianson, et al., 2006; Kemper et al., 2004). Kemper and colleagues (2004) found that older adults showed larger garden-path effects than younger adults, spending longer reading and re-reading garden-path sentences, and that these age-related differences were mediated by WM. This finding provides evidence of the importance of WM in resolving syntactic ambiguities. Christianson, et al. (2006) found that older adults’ comprehension question accuracy for garden-path sentences was correlated with their WM span. This finding provides evidence of the role of WM in successful recovery from a garden path. However, there has been little research on whether PWA also exhibit garden-path effects in their real-time comprehension of syntactically ambiguous sentences, or how successfully they recover from such garden paths. PWA have also been argued to have reduced WM capacity which contributes to their sentence comprehension deficits (e.g., Miyake, Carpenter & Just, 1994). WM is likely involved in the reanalysis of garden-path sentences (Kemper, et al., 2004), since reanalysis requires performing operations on structures held in memory. This study therefore examined the comprehension of garden-path sentences in PWA, and tested how their on-line garden-path effects and their off-line garden-path recovery were predicted by WM and short-term memory (STM).

Item Type: Clinical Aphasiology Paper
Depositing User: Leo Johnson
Date Deposited: 17 Jun 2015
Last Modified: 03 Jun 2016 12:54
Conference: Clinical Aphasiology Conference > Clinical Aphasiology Conference (2014 : 44th : St. Simons Island, GA : May 27-June 1, 2014

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