Neurolinguistic Investigations of Aphasia and Recovery

Project: Research project

Project Details


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.
Effective start/end date1/1/1712/31/22


  • National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders (5R01DC001948-24)


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