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Grammaticality judgment in aphasia: deficits are not specific to syntactic structures, aphasic syndromes, or lesion sites

Wilson, SM; SaygÄ n, AP; (2004) Grammaticality judgment in aphasia: deficits are not specific to syntactic structures, aphasic syndromes, or lesion sites. Journal of Cognitive Neuroscience , 16 (2) 238 - 252.

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Abstract

We examined the abilities of aphasic patients to makegrammaticality judgments on English sentences instantiatinga variety of syntactic structures. Previous studies employingthis metalinguistic task have suggested that aphasic patientstypically perform better on grammaticality judgment tasksthan they do on sentence comprehension tasks, a findingthat has informed the current view that grammatical knowledgeis relatively preserved in agrammatic aphasia. However,not all syntactic structures are judged equally accurately, andseveral researchers have attempted to provide explanatoryprinciples to predict which structures will pose problems toagrammatic patients. One such proposal is Grodzinsky andFinkel’s (1998) claim that agrammatic aphasics are selectivelyimpaired in their ability to process structures involving tracesof maximal projections. In this study, we tested this claim bypresenting patients with sentences with or without suchtraces, but also varying the level of difficulty of both kinds ofstructures, assessed with reference to the performance ofage-matched and young controls. We found no evidence thatagrammatic aphasics, or any other subgroup, are selectivelyimpaired on structures involving traces: Some judgmentsinvolving traces were made quite accurately, whereas otherjudgments not involving traces were made very poorly.Subgroup analyses revealed that patient groups and agematchedcontrols had remarkably similar profiles of performanceacross sentence types, regardless of whether thepatients were grouped based on Western Aphasia Batteryclassification, an independent screening test for agrammaticcomprehension, or lesion site. This implies that the patternof performance across sentence types does not result fromany particular component of the grammar, or any particularbrain region, being selectively compromised. Lesion analysisrevealed that posterior temporal areas were more reliablyimplicated in poor grammaticality judgment performancethan anterior areas, but poor performance was also observedwith some anterior lesions, suggesting that areas importantfor syntactic processing are distributed throughout the leftperi-sylvian region.

Type:Article
Title:Grammaticality judgment in aphasia: deficits are not specific to syntactic structures, aphasic syndromes, or lesion sites
Additional information:Imported via OAI, 7:29:01 4th Sep 2007
UCL classification:UCL > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Life Sciences

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