Blog Archives

How does similarity-based interference affect the choice of referring expression?

We tested a cue-based retrieval model that predicts how similarity between discourse entities influences the speaker’s choice of referring expressions. In Experiment 1, speakers produced fewer pronouns (relative to repeated noun phrases) when the competitor was in the same situation as the referent (both on a horse) rather than in a different situation (only the referent on a horse). The situational congruence had a larger impact when it was relevant to the to-be-described action (getting off a horse) than otherwise (taking off a hat), suggesting that the effect of similarity is modulated by its relevance to other conceptual representations held by the speaker. Experiment 2 found an effect of the competitor’s similarity regardless of whether pronouns were ambiguous or not, suggesting that the effect is independent of ambiguity avoidance and results from speaker-internal production constraints.

from the Journal of Memory and Language

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The organization of narrative discourse in Lewy body spectrum disorder

Narrative discourse is an essential component of day-to-day communication, but little is known about narrative in Lewy body spectrum disorder (LBSD), including Parkinson’s disease (PD), Parkinson’s disease with dementia (PDD), and dementia with Lewy bodies (DLB). We performed a detailed analysis of a semi-structured speech sample in 32 non-aphasic patients with LBSD, and we related their narrative impairments to gray matter (GM) atrophy using voxel-based morphometry. We found that patients with PDD and DLB have significant difficulty organizing their narrative speech. This was correlated with deficits on measures of executive functioning and speech fluency. Regression analyses associated this deficit with reduced cortical volume in inferior frontal and anterior cingulate regions. These findings are consistent with a model of narrative discourse that includes executive as well as language components and with an impairment of the organizational component of narrative discourse in patients with PDD and DLB.

from Brain and Language

In the eye of the listener: Pupil dilation elucidates discourse processing

The current study investigated cognitive resource allocation in discourse processing by means of pupil dilation and behavioral measures. Short question–answer dialogs were presented to listeners. Either the context question queried a new information focus in the successive answer, or else the context query was corrected in the answer sentence (correction information). The information foci contained in the answer sentences were either adequately highlighted by prosodic means or not. Participants had to judge the adequacy of the focus prosody with respect to the preceding context question. Prosodic judgment accuracy was higher in the conditions bearing adequate focus prosody than in the conditions with inadequate focus prosody. Latency to peak pupil dilation was longer when new information foci were perceived compared to correction foci. Moreover, for the peak dilation, an interaction of focus type and prosody was found. Post hoc statistical tests revealed that prosodically adequate correction focus positions were processed with smaller peak dilation in comparison to all other dialog conditions. Thus, pupil dilation and results of a principal component analysis suggest an interaction of focus type and focus prosody in discourse processing.

from the International Journal of Psychophysiology

Story Processing Ability in Cognitively Healthy Younger and Older Adults

Conclusions: The relationship between adults’ comprehension of stimuli used to elicit narrative production samples and their narrative productions differed across the life span, suggesting that discourse processing performance changes in healthy aging. Finally, the study’s findings suggest that memory and attention contribute to older adults’ story processing performance.

from the Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research

Assessing the effect of lexical aspect and grounding on the acquisition of L2 Spanish past tense morphology among L1 English speakers

The present study compares the relative effect of inherent lexical aspect and discursive grounding on the use of L2 Spanish Preterit and Imperfect. The study is based on the analysis of responses to a written 40-item discourse-based forced-choice task among 286 English-speaking learners of Spanish. The analysis of data (repeated measures ANOVA) reveals that as learners gain more experience with the target language, the effect of both lexical aspect and grounding on past tense marking increases. That is, contrary to previous predictions, learners constantly move towards prototypical associations of lexical-narrative factors with morphological markers as knowledge of the second language increases. Second, grounding is the construct that most clearly distinguishes learners from native speakers.

from Bilingualism: Language and Cognition

On the coherence of information highlighted by narrators with aphasia

The relatively intact ability of individuals with aphasia to assign prominence to information in narratives sheds light on the neurological underpinnings of modalising language, and suggests possible skills associated with the ability of aphasic persons to “communicate better than they talk” (Holland, 1977). The clinical potential for assessment and treatment that incorporates narrative evaluative devices and modalising language needs to be further explored.

from Aphasiology

Understanding of auditory discourse in older adults: The effects of syntax and working memory

Conclusions: Older adults may be less efficient in forming syntactically complex representations and this may be influenced by limitations in working memory.

from Aphasiology

Who Said What? Sampling Conversation Repair Behavior Involving Adults with Acquired Hearing Impairment

Aural rehabilitation techniques provide clinicians with a range of intervention strategies to address the impact of acquired hearing impairment on everyday conversation. Although clinicians rely on assessment of speech reception abilities in the clinic and self-report of the effects of intervention on conversation and psychosocial issues, they do not currently possess techniques by which they might directly assess changes in everyday conversational behavior following intervention. This article reports on studies that have sampled conversation behavior, particularly patterns of repair, as a basis for such direct assessment. These studies provide initial evidence of the potential for clinical assessment of conversation behavior as a direct method for evaluating the outcome of conversation-based aural rehabilitation techniques. This article reviews research into the assessment of repair in conversations involving adults who have acquired hearing impairment (HI). The article uses conversation analysis as the guiding methodology and theory to address acquired HI as a communication disorder. The ways in which conversation may be disrupted by an acquired HI are described, and the conduct and limitations of current technological and conversation-based rehabilitation for this population are discussed.

from Seminars in Hearing

A discourse-based approach to semantic feature analysis for the treatment of aphasic word retrieval failures

Conclusions: The changes effected by this discourse-based approach to SFA were as robust and as consistent as has been achieved previously with SFA treatment. The choice to use a discourse-based versus a picture-based approach to SFA treatment might be based on the ecological validity of the discourse-based approach.

from Aphasiology

Who Said What? Sampling Conversation Repair Behavior Involving Adults with Acquired Hearing Impairment

Aural rehabilitation techniques provide clinicians with a range of intervention strategies to address the impact of acquired hearing impairment on everyday conversation. Although clinicians rely on assessment of speech reception abilities in the clinic and self-report of the effects of intervention on conversation and psychosocial issues, they do not currently possess techniques by which they might directly assess changes in everyday conversational behavior following intervention. This article reports on studies that have sampled conversation behavior, particularly patterns of repair, as a basis for such direct assessment. These studies provide initial evidence of the potential for clinical assessment of conversation behavior as a direct method for evaluating the outcome of conversation-based aural rehabilitation techniques. This article reviews research into the assessment of repair in conversations involving adults who have acquired hearing impairment (HI). The article uses conversation analysis as the guiding methodology and theory to address acquired HI as a communication disorder. The ways in which conversation may be disrupted by an acquired HI are described, and the conduct and limitations of current technological and conversation-based rehabilitation for this population are discussed.

from Seminars in Hearing

Individual variability on discourse measures over repeated sampling times in persons with aphasia

The current results suggest greater variability over repeated sampling times in the spoken language of persons with aphasia than previously reported by Nicholas and Brookshire (1993). Clinicians and researchers should consider this variability, and establish stable baselines prior to the initiation of treatment to document meaningful change over time.

from Aphasiology

Language, meaning, context, and functional communication

Conclusions: Language as information is only one form of language use. The paper argues for further consideration in aphasiology of the importance of multiple language uses and their relation to context. It is proposed that regarding language forms from these different perspectives of use will enable clinicians to further address the different aspects of communication required for meaningful and satisfying interactions in everyday social life.

from Aphasiology

“Let me tell you the point”: How speakers with aphasia assign prominence to information in narratives

The relatively intact ability of individuals with aphasia to assign prominence to information in narratives once again raises questions on the neurological underpinnings of modalising language. The clinical potential for assessment and treatment that incorporates narrative evaluative devices needs to be further explored.

from Aphasiology

Stimulating conversation: Enhancement of elicited propositional speech in a patient with chronic non-fluent aphasia following transcranial magnetic stimulation

Although evidence suggests that patients with left hemisphere strokes and non-fluent aphasia who receive 1 Hz repetitive transcranial magnetic stimulation (rTMS) over the intact right inferior frontal gyrus experience persistent benefits in naming, it remains unclear whether the effects of rTMS in these patients generalize to other language abilities. We report a subject with chronic non-fluent aphasia who showed stable deficits of elicited propositional speech over the course of 5 years, and received 1200 pulses of 1 Hz rTMS daily for 10 days at a site identified as being optimally responsive to rTMS in this patient. Consistent with prior studies there was improvement in object naming, with a statistically significant improvement in action naming. Improvement was also demonstrated in picture description at 2, 6, and 10 months after rTMS with respect to the number of narrative words and nouns, sentence length, and use of closed class words. Compared to his baseline performance, the patient showed significant improvement on the Western Aphasia Battery (WAB) subscale for spontaneous speech. These findings suggest that manipulation of the intact contralesional cortex in patients with non-fluent aphasia may result in language benefits that generalize beyond naming to include other aspects of language production.

from Brain and Language

Using Language Sample Databases

Conclusion: The SALT databases provide a useful tool for the clinical management of children with language impairment.

from Language, Speech and Hearing Services in Schools