The overarching goal of this project is to develop effective language treatment protocols for individuals with stroke-induced agrammatic aphasia. Building on theories of linguistic representation and the neurocognitive mechanisms of sentence processing in healthy speakers, this project investigates the processes that support sentence production and comprehension (and treatment-induced recovery) in agrammatic aphasia, using a series of online processing experiments as well as an experimental treatment study. This project uses primarily online methods to examine thematic integration processes in sentence production and comprehension. Thematic integration is the incremental mapping between thematic roles (e.g., Agent, Theme) and sentence constituents (e.g., subject, object) ? i.e., the processes of comprehending or expressing ?who did what to whom.? These processes are essential for successful sentence production and comprehension but appear to be impaired in agrammatic aphasia. A series of four sentence comprehension experiments, using eyetracking and ERP, test the hypothesis that impaired thematic prediction contributes to impairments in thematic role assignment and sentence comprehension accuracy. Four sentence production experiments, using eyetracking and priming paradigms, examine the effects of impaired thematic planning processes on sentence production ability. Studies also examine the relation between comprehension and production abilities, testing the hypothesis that thematic integration deficits are seen across domains in agrammatic aphasia. Further, an experimental treatment study compares the effectiveness of two novel extensions of Treatment of Underlying Forms (TUF; Thompson & Shapiro, 2005), which train thematic integration using a TUF-Structural approach, which emphasizes verb-based structural processing and a TUF- Word approach, focused on word-by-word incremental processing. Consistent with previous work, both versions of TUF are expected to support improved sentence production, including generalization to simpler linguistically-related structures; however, TUF-Word is expected to foster stronger gains in comprehension, due to its emphasis on training incremental (word-by-word) thematic processing. In addition, this project investigates the neurocognitive mechanisms of treatment-induced language recovery using eyetracking and sentence production paradigms, as well as the effects of language treatment on functional communication ability. The results of this work will contribute to the understanding of sentence processing in aphasia and in healthy adults, the factors that contribute to effective treatment for sentence-level impairments, as well as the neurocognitive mechanisms of treatment-induced recovery in agrammatic aphasia.

Public Health Relevance

The purpose of this project is to develop effective language treatment protocols for individuals with stroke- induced agrammatic aphasia, which is characterized by impaired sentence production and comprehension. The processes that support sentence production and comprehension are investigated in order to identify potential treatment targets and approaches. These treatment approaches are developed and tested, examining patterns of learning and generalization as well as the processing mechanisms that support recovery in agrammatic aphasia.

National Institute of Health (NIH)
National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders (NIDCD)
Research Project (R01)
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Language and Communication Study Section (LCOM)
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Cooper, Judith
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Northwestern University at Chicago
Other Health Professions
Schools of Arts and Sciences
United States
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Mack, Jennifer E; Thompson, Cynthia K (2017) Recovery of Online Sentence Processing in Aphasia: Eye Movement Changes Resulting From Treatment of Underlying Forms. J Speech Lang Hear Res 60:1299-1315
Mack, Jennifer E; Nerantzini, Michaela; Thompson, Cynthia K (2017) Recovery of Sentence Production Processes Following Language Treatment in Aphasia: Evidence from Eyetracking. Front Hum Neurosci 11:101
Schuchard, Julia; Thompson, Cynthia K (2017) Sequential learning in individuals with agrammatic aphasia: evidence from artificial grammar learning. J Cogn Psychol (Hove) 29:521-534
Schuchard, Julia; Nerantzini, Michaela; Thompson, Cynthia K (2017) Implicit learning and implicit treatment outcomes in individuals with aphasia. Aphasiology 31:25-48
Mack, Jennifer E; Wei, Andrew Zu-Sern; Gutierrez, Stephanie et al. (2016) Tracking sentence comprehension: Test-retest reliability in people with aphasia and unimpaired adults. J Neurolinguistics 40:98-111
Cho-Reyes, Soojin; Mack, Jennifer E; Thompson, Cynthia K (2016) Grammatical Encoding and Learning in Agrammatic Aphasia: Evidence from Structural Priming. J Mem Lang 91:202-218
Wang, Honglei; Thompson, Cynthia K (2016) Assessing Syntactic Deficits in Chinese Broca's aphasia using the Northwestern Assessment of Verbs and Sentences-Chinese (NAVS-C). Aphasiology 30:815-840
Lee, Jiyeon; Thompson, Cynthia K (2015) Phonological facilitation effects on naming latencies and viewing times during noun and verb naming in agrammatic and anomic aphasia. Aphasiology 29:1164-1188
Meltzer-Asscher, Aya; Mack, Jennifer E; Barbieri, Elena et al. (2015) How the brain processes different dimensions of argument structure complexity: evidence from fMRI. Brain Lang 142:65-75
Lee, Jiyeon; Yoshida, Masaya; Thompson, Cynthia K (2015) Grammatical Planning Units During Real-Time Sentence Production in Speakers With Agrammatic Aphasia and Healthy Speakers. J Speech Lang Hear Res 58:1182-94

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