Aphasia is a multi-faceted language processing disorder with a devastating impact on a person?s communication, personal, and social life. Impaired sentence production is common in many individuals with aphasia (IWA) and has been attributed to desynchronized lexico-syntactic integration secondary to reduced processing capacity or ?temporal window?. The pathologically reduced temporal window affects activation and retention of lexical-semantic representations and/or syntactic structures. Inter-and intra- individual variability in production errors is presumably due to different degrees of reduction in the tem- poral window and individuals? strategic variation to that reduction. However, translation of this knowledge into clinical practice has been challenging because little systematic research is available on (a) what in- formation drives message-structure mapping most effectively in IWA and (b) if/how individual deficits of the temporal window (lexical-semantic, syntactic, both) relate to use of different production strategies. The proposed research addresses these two significant issues within the psycholinguistic models of word-driven and structure-driven sentence production.
In Aim 1, we examine relative contributions of dif- ferent word- and structure-level primes on successful sentence production in IWA using a set of eye- tracking-while-speaking experiments.
In Aim 2, we examine the extent to which individual variability in lexical-semantic short-term memory and syntactic processing contributes to the facilitation effects of word- and structure-level primes on sentence production in IWA. This systematic investigation will identi- fy the mechanisms facilitating successful sentence production in IWA in relation to the underlying source of individual deficits above and beyond current theories of aphasic sentence production. Clinically, the findings will help to identify what is/are the most effective treatment strategies to facilitate sentence pro- duction and to determine the extent to which individuals? functional deficits should be considered in se- lecting intervention approaches.
Sentence production represents one of the major difficulties experienced by individuals with aphasia, a deficit with devastating impact on their communication, personal, and social life. The goal of this research is to identify what information (word- vs. structure-level) facilitates sentence production most effectively in IWA, and how individuals? deficit patterns are related to different facilitative strategies. Findings from this project may serve as a foundation for advancing treatments of sentence production deficits in individuals with aphasia.