Conclusions: We claim that patients’ problems with the interpretation of pronouns are not the result of missing syntactic knowledge, but are due to patients’ limited ability to keep syntactic configurations in their syntactic working memory. We argue that their preference for subjects as antecedents for pronouns reflects a fall-back strategy in agrammatic patients when, as a result of limited processing resources, syntax-based interpretative operations fail.
Purpose: This study sought to understand acoustic and perceptual cues to contrastive stress in speakers with dysarthria (DYS) and healthy controls (HC).
Method: The production experiment examined the ability of 12 DYS (9 M, 3 F; mean age = 39) and 12 age-gender-matched HC (9 M, 3F; mean age = 37.5) to signal contrastive stress within short sentences. Acoustic changes in fundamental frequency (F0), intensity and duration were studied. The perceptual experiment explored whether 48 unfamiliar listeners (24 M, 24 F; mean age = 23.4) could identify the intended stress location in DYS and HC productions.
Results: While both speaker groups used all three prosodic cues, DYS relied more heavily on duration. Despite reduced F0 and intensity variation within DYS utterances, listeners were highly accurate at identifying both DYS (>93%) and HC (>97%) productions. Acoustic predictors of listener accuracy included heightened prosodic cues on stressed words along with marked decreases in these variables for neighboring non-stressed words.
Conclusions: Speakers signaled contrastive stress using relative changes in one or more prosodic cue. Although individual speakers employed different cue combinations, listeners were highly adept at discerning the intended stress location. The communicative potential of prosody in speakers with congenital dysarthria is discussed.