The Aphasiology Archive
University Library System, University of Pittsburgh

Testing the interplay of structure and meaning in aphasic sentence production

Mitchum, Charlotte C. and Berndt, Rita Sloan
Testing the interplay of structure and meaning in aphasic sentence production . Aphasiology, 22(7-8), July, 2008, pages 853-865.


Background: Improving aphasic sentence production is a challenging endeavour, both for the speaker who must recover the linguistic skill and for the therapist who attempts to guide the process. Studies have demonstrated that treatment can often improve the sentence production ability of aphasic speakers, but with limited generalisation to new lexical content and untrained sentence structure. One factor that limits the outcome of production therapy may be the complexity of the relationship between the form and the meaning of a sentence. This is confounded by a limited array of diagnostic approaches for revealing what linguistic resources remain available to the aphasic speaker.

Aims: In this study we tested a new format for eliciting sentence production in aphasia. Our goal was to reveal whether or not individual aphasic speakers were sensitive to certain semantic and syntactic elements of sentences that are believed to influence the sentence production process.

Methods & Procedures: Using a modified sentence repetition format we explored the sentence production abilities of five fluent aphasic speakers under different conditions of lexical and/or structural manipulations. Lexical manipulations required substitution of a semantically related verb; structural manipulations required reordering of the post-verbal arguments in different dative constructions (double object and prepositional) that express essentially the same message.

Outcomes & Results: Response patterns obtained from the five aphasic participants revealed individual patterns of skill and sensitivity based on residual language ability. The implications of these results are discussed with reference to the potential for revealing elements of normal production patterns in aphasic speech, and the assumption that such information is important for developing more effective therapy for individuals with aphasia.

Conclusions: Patterns of sentence production elicited in a modified sentence repetition task may reveal syntactic flexibility and residual syntactic knowledge in speakers with aphasia.

EPrint Type:Journal (Paginated)
ID Code:1805
Conference:Clinical Aphasiology Conference: Clinical Aphasiology Conference (2007 : 37th : Scottsdale, AZ : May 22-26, 2007)
Publisher:Taylor and Francis
Alternative Locations:,
DOI or Unique Handle:10.1080/02687030701831466
Additional Information:Access to the full text is subject to the publisher's access restrictions.