The research proposed here is designed to advance our knowledge of disturbances affecting aphasic patients' abilities to understand sentences. Patients will be tested for their abilities to understand semantically irreversible sentences, semantically reversible sentences, and sentences in discourse context. Patients' performance as a function of these variables will serve to delineate three major types of impairments of the sentence comprehension process: (1) """"""""lexico-pragmatic"""""""" comprehension: the ability to understand words and to integrate word meanings into sentence meanings on the basis of logical and pragmatic inferences based on real world knowledge; (2) """"""""syntactic"""""""" comprehension: the ability to construct syntactic structures and use them to guide the integration of word meaning into sentence meaning; and (3) 'discourse' comprehension: the ability to use discourse structure to determine aspects of sentence meaning. Within each of these basic domains of sentence processing, we shall investigate the nature of patients' disturbances in a fine-grained manner, basing our detailed examination of these processes on models of sentence processing drawn from linguistics, psycholinguistics, computer science, and aphasiology. We will correlate specific disturbances of sentence comprehension with the location of brain lesions. The results will provide a detailed analysis of sentence comprehension disturbances in aphasia that makes direct contact with contempory models of sentence comprehension in cognitive science, and that can serve to test and extend these models. The results will also be of use in clinical patient diagnosis and in planning therapy.

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National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders (NIDCD)
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Sensory Disorders and Language Study Section (CMS)
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Massachusetts General Hospital
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Caplan, David; Michaud, Jennifer; Hufford, Rebecca et al. (2016) Deficit-lesion correlations in syntactic comprehension in aphasia. Brain Lang 152:14-27
Caplan, David; Michaud, Jennifer; Hufford, Rebecca (2015) Mechanisms underlying syntactic comprehension deficits in vascular aphasia: new evidence from self-paced listening. Cogn Neuropsychol 32:283-313
Caplan, David; Michaud, Jennifer; Hufford, Rebecca (2013) Dissociations and associations of performance in syntactic comprehension in aphasia and their implications for the nature of aphasic deficits. Brain Lang 127:21-33
Caplan, David; Waters, Gloria (2013) Memory mechanisms supporting syntactic comprehension. Psychon Bull Rev 20:243-68
Caplan, David; Michaud, Jennifer; Hufford, Rebecca (2013) Short-term memory, working memory, and syntactic comprehension in aphasia. Cogn Neuropsychol 30:77-109
Caplan, David; Waters, Gloria; Howard, David (2012) Slave systems in verbal short-term memory. Aphasiology 26:
Gutman, Roee; DeDe, Gayle; Michaud, Jennifer et al. (2010) Rasch models of aphasic performance on syntactic comprehension tests. Cogn Neuropsychol 27:230-44
Sapolsky, D; Bakkour, A; Negreira, A et al. (2010) Cortical neuroanatomic correlates of symptom severity in primary progressive aphasia. Neurology 75:358-66
Caplan, David; Waters, Gloria; Dede, Gayle et al. (2007) A study of syntactic processing in aphasia I: behavioral (psycholinguistic) aspects. Brain Lang 101:103-50
Caplan, David; Waters, Gloria; Kennedy, David et al. (2007) A study of syntactic processing in aphasia II: neurological aspects. Brain Lang 101:151-77

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