Neural mechanisms of sentence production: a volumetric study of primary progressive aphasia

Elena Barbieri*, Sladjana Lukic, Emily Rogalski, Sandra Weintraub, Marek Marsel Mesulam, Cynthia K. Thompson

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Studies on the neural bases of sentence production have yielded mixed results, partly due to differences in tasks and participant types. In this study, 101 individuals with primary progressive aphasia (PPA) were evaluated using a test that required spoken production following an auditory prime (Northwestern Assessment of Verbs and Sentences - Sentence Production Priming Test, NAVS-SPPT), and one that required building a sentence by ordering word cards (Northwestern Anagram Test, NAT). Voxel-Based Morphometry revealed that gray matter (GM) volume in left inferior/middle frontal gyri (L IFG/MFG) was associated with sentence production accuracy on both tasks, more so for complex sentences, whereas, GM volume in left posterior temporal regions was exclusively associated with NAVS-SPPT performance and predicted by performance on a Digit Span Forward (DSF) task. Verb retrieval deficits partly mediated the relationship between L IFG/MFG and performance on the NAVS-SPPT. These findings underscore the importance of L IFG/MFG for sentence production and suggest that this relationship is partly accounted for by verb retrieval deficits, but not phonological loop integrity. In contrast, it is possible that the posterior temporal cortex is associated with auditory short-term memory ability, to the extent that DSF performance is a valid measure of this in aphasia.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numberbhad470
JournalCerebral Cortex
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 1 2024


  • digit span
  • lexical retrieval
  • primary progressive aphasia
  • sentence production
  • voxel-based morphometry

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cellular and Molecular Neuroscience
  • Cognitive Neuroscience


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