Grammatical encoding and learning in agrammatic aphasia: Evidence from structural priming

Soojin Cho-Reyes*, Jennifer E. Mack, Cynthia K. Thompson

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

22 Scopus citations


The present study addressed open questions about the nature of sentence production deficits in agrammatic aphasia. In two structural priming experiments, 13 aphasic and 13 age-matched control speakers repeated visually- and auditorily-presented prime sentences, and then used visually-presented word arrays to produce dative sentences. Experiment 1 examined whether agrammatic speakers form structural and thematic representations during sentence production, whereas Experiment 2 tested the lasting effects of structural priming in lags of two and four sentences. Results of Experiment 1 showed that, like unimpaired speakers, the aphasic speakers evinced intact structural priming effects, suggesting that they are able to generate such representations. Unimpaired speakers also showed reliable thematic priming effects in all conditions; agrammatic speakers did so as well in most experimental conditions, suggesting that access to thematic representations may be intact. Results of Experiment 2 showed structural priming effects of comparable magnitude for aphasic and unimpaired speakers. In addition, both groups showed lasting structural priming effects in both lag conditions, consistent with implicit learning accounts. In both experiments, aphasic speakers with more severe language impairments exhibited larger priming effects, consistent with the “inverse preference” prediction of implicit learning accounts. The findings indicate that agrammatic speakers are sensitive to structural priming across levels of representation and that such effects are lasting, suggesting that structural priming may be beneficial for the treatment of sentence production deficits in agrammatism.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)202-218
Number of pages17
JournalJournal of Memory and Language
StatePublished - Dec 1 2016


  • Agrammatic aphasia
  • Sentence production
  • Structural priming
  • Thematic mapping
  • Thematic priming

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuropsychology and Physiological Psychology
  • Language and Linguistics
  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
  • Linguistics and Language
  • Artificial Intelligence


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