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Exploring event processing and description in people with aphasia

Dean, MP; Black, M; (2005) Exploring event processing and description in people with aphasia. Aphasiology , 19 (6) pp. 521-544. 10.1080/02687030544000001.

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Background: A recent proposal is that verb retrieval difficulties in some people with aphasia may reflect impairment to processes that construct event representations in a language-appropriate way. This level of processing has been termed "thinking for speaking" (Slobin, 1996), "conceptual preparation" (Level, Roelofs, & Meyer, 1999), or "event processing" (Marshall, Pring, & Chiat, 1993). Aims: The present study aims to extend understanding of this early stage of language production and the implications of its impairment. We examine verbs and sets of noun phrases produced in picture descriptions, comparing two people with disproportionate verb retrieval difficulties, and analyse their performance with respect to variables deemed to affect event processing. One person, EM, is argued to have event-processing difficulties, while the other, MH, is argued to have difficulties primarily in retrieving lexical verb forms. Methods & procedures: The two participants with aphasia were compared on a picture description task, with target descriptions provided by control data. The study examined effects of stimulus format (photograph vs line drawing) and complexity of the situation (whether a single act, process, or state was the focus, versus a combination of these). Both quantitative and qualitative analyses were performed. Outcomes & results: The event-processing variables influenced the sets of noun phrases produced by EM and not MH, as per our predictions. However, statistically reliable effects were not evident in rates of verb retrieval. Error analyses revealed that EM focused on non-target aspects of the situation in many of her descriptions, while MH retained target situation type despite his verb retrieval deficit. Conclusions: The performance of the two participants dissociated with respect to event-processing variables. This study extends understanding of the consequences of impaired event processing on language production, and suggests a novel and theoretically motivated means of examining the communicative abilities of people with aphasia. © 2005 Psychology Press Ltd.

Type: Article
Title: Exploring event processing and description in people with aphasia
DOI: 10.1080/02687030544000001
UCL classification: UCL > School of Life and Medical Sciences
UCL > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Brain Sciences
UCL > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Life Sciences
URI: http://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/10277
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