Blog Archives

BOLD response to motion verbs in left posterior middle temporal gyrus during story comprehension

A primary focus within neuroimaging research on language comprehension is on the distribution of semantic knowledge in the brain. Studies have shown that the left posterior middle temporal gyrus (LPMT), a region just anterior to area MT/V5, is important for the processing of complex action knowledge. It has also been found that motion verbs cause activation in LPMT. In this experiment we investigated whether this effect could be replicated in a setting resembling real life language comprehension, i.e. without any overt behavioral task during passive listening to a story. During fMRI participants listened to a recording of the story “The Ugly Duckling”. We incorporated a nuisance elimination regression approach for factoring out known nuisance variables both in terms of physiological noise, sound intensity, linguistic variables and emotional content. Compared to the remaining text, clauses containing motion verbs were accompanied by a robust activation of LPMT with no other significant effects, consistent with the hypothesis that this brain region is important for processing motion knowledge, even during naturalistic language comprehension conditions.

from Brain and Language

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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

Hierarchical Organization of Scripts: Converging Evidence from fMRI and Frontotemporal Degeneration

The present study examined the organization of complex familiar activities, known as “scripts” (e.g., “going fishing”). We assessed whether events in a script are processed in a linear-sequential manner or clustered-hierarchical manner, and we evaluated the neural basis for this processing capacity. Converging evidence was obtained from functional neuroimaging in healthy young adults and from behavioral and structural magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) data in patients with focal neurodegenerative disease. In both studies, participants judged the order of consecutive event pairs taken from a script. Event pairs either were clustered together within a script or were from different clusters within the script. Controls judged events more accurately and quickly if taken from the same cluster within a script compared with different clusters, even though all event pairs were consecutive, consistent with the hierarchical organization of a script. Functional magnetic resonance imaging associated this with bilateral inferior frontal activation. Patients with progressive nonfluent aphasia or behavior-variant frontotemporal dementia did not distinguish between event pairs from the same cluster or from different clusters within a script. Structural MRI associated this deficit with significant frontal cortical atrophy. Our findings suggest that frontal cortex contributes to clustering events during script comprehension, underlining the role of frontal cortex in the hierarchical organization of a script.

from Cerebral Cortex

Mothers’ Autobiographical Memory and Book Narratives with, Children with Specific Language Impairment

This study examined the role that mothers’ scaffolding plays in the autobiographical memory (AM) and storybook narratives of children with specific language impairment (SLI). Seven 4- to 5-year-old children and their mothers co-constructed narratives in both contexts. We also compared children’s narratives with mothers to their narratives with an experimenter. Narratives were assessed in terms of narrative style (i.e., elaborativeness) and topic control. Mothers’ elaborative and repetitive questions during AM and book narratives were related to children’s elaborations, whereas mothers’ elaborative and repetitive statements were not. Mothers produced more topic-controlling utterances than children in both contexts; however, both mothers and children provided proportionally more information in the book context. Additionally, children were more elaborative with mothers compared to an experimenter.

from the Journal of Communication Disorders

Narrative Assessment for Cantonese-Speaking Children

Conclusion and Implications: Narrative assessment can be standardized to be a reliable and valid instrument to assist in the identification of children with language impairment. Syntactic complexity is not only a strong predictor of grade but was also particularly vulnerable in Cantonese-speaking children with specific language impairment. Further diagnostic research using narrative analysis is warranted.

from the Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research

‘Luckily it was only for 10 minutes’: Ideology, discursive positions, and language socialization in family interaction

This paper presents a qualitative analysis of family interaction concerning two narratives told by Julie (nine years old) and Emma (11) during dinner-table conversations in their respective homes. Based on their different notions of the institutional process of schooling, these two families interactionally and narratively shape thematically similar events in different ways. A focus on obedience, authority and issues of right and wrong provides Julie with the discursive position of a subordinate novice, whereas issues of autonomy, choice and individual responsibility enable Emma to take up the position of self-assured expert. Both children are encouraged to reflect upon their own conduct and evaluate the implications of the choices guiding their actions. The paper demonstrates how moral order is interactionally constructed, and how language socialization processes are ideologically charged. Finally, the paper discusses the implications of such processes for children’s immediate and future orientation to the institutional practices of school and society.

from Journal of Sociolinguistics

“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

Therapy Discharge Becomes Part of the Life Story

Despite great strides in the life-participation approach to aphasia therapy and the arduous work of several therapists to include patients in the decision-making and goal-setting process of therapy, the patient’s direct perspective on the experience of treatment is seldom portrayed in academic journals. In the current article, the voices and different agendas of a stroke survivor with aphasia, her speech-language therapists, and an aspiring qualitative researcher are discussed by means of intertwined narratives, dialogues, and discourses. During an in-depth interview process, the researcher hears the effects of a discharge report on the perceptions and life course of a person living with aphasia. The researcher explores her own reactions and thoughts about the discharge process and report writing. The narratives in this article illustrate the potentially serious impact of seemingly routine clinical procedures, such as a discharge report.

from Topics in Stroke Rehabilitation

Hebrew Adjectives in Later Language Text Production

The study investigates the distribution and use of adjectives in 252 texts produced by 63 Hebrew-speaking children, adolescents, and adults who were asked to tell and write a story about a personal fight or a quarrel, and to present a talk and write an expository text on the topic of school violence. All adjective types and tokens in each text were identified, counted, classified, and analyzed using semantic, morphological, and syntactic criteria. Findings show that the adjective class grows larger, richer, and more diverse with age and schooling — in lexicon, morpho-semantics, and syntax. Also, adjectives configure by text genres and modalities in ways that provide independent support for text type classification from spoken narratives, on the one hand, to written expositories, on the other. Finally, gender effects point in the direction of Hebrew-speaking girls and women employing a richer and more diverse adjective lexicon than boys and men in this study.

from First Language

Training verb production in communicative context: Evidence from a person with chronic non-fluent aphasia *

Background: The use of constraint-induced treatment in aphasia therapy has yielded promising but mixed results.

Aims: We conducted a treatment study with an individual with chronic non-fluent aphasia. The goal of the treatment was to improve verb production in sentence and narrative contexts.

Methods & Procedures: We administered a modified constraint-induced aphasia treatment in a single-participant design. Treatment emphasised the production of verbs within informative exchanges. Verb production in narratives was assessed before and after the treatment.

Outcomes & Results: Results demonstrated a significant increase in the number of verbs produced during narrative generation following treatment. Moreover, a positive change was perceived by nave listeners who rated the social-communicative impact of the participant’s narratives.

Conclusions: The increase in verb production seen in the post-treatment measures is attributed to a combination of the constraints imposed on sentence production during the treatment sessions, the informative nature of the treatment exchanges, and the relative intensity of the treatment schedule.
* We thank Kathryn Tison for her help in administering the treatment and coding the data, and Lauren Nehilla and Jen Lyonnais for their help with data entry. We are grateful to Laura Glufling-Tham and Amy Litwack for their assistance prior to and during data collection. We also thank Marianne Schmid Mast and Nora Murphy for providing their Conversation Perception questionnaire. And we thank our participant for taking part in this study. We are also grateful to Marcus Meinzer and an anonymous reviewer for their helpful comments. Support for Mira Goral was provided by NIH grant GM081113.

from Aphasiology

Improved vocabulary production after naming therapy in aphasia: can gains in picture naming generalise to connected speech?

Background: Naming accuracy for nouns and verbs in aphasia can vary across different elicitation contexts, for example, simple picture naming, composite picture description, narratives, and conversation. For some people with aphasia, naming may be more accurate to simple pictures as opposed to naming in spontaneous, connected speech; for others, the opposite pattern may be evident. These differences have, in some instances, been related to word class (for example, noun or verb) as well as aphasia subtype. Given that the aim of picture-naming therapies is to improve word-finding in general, these differences in naming accuracy across contexts may have important implications for the potential functional benefits of picture-naming therapies.

Aims: This study aimed to explore single-word therapy for both nouns and verbs, and to answer the following questions. (1) To what extent does an increase in naming accuracy after picture-naming therapy (for both nouns and verbs) predict accurate naming of the same items in less constrained spontaneous connected speech tasks such as composite picture description and retelling of a narrative? (2) Does the word class targeted in therapy (verb or noun) dictate whether there is ‘carry-over’ of the therapy item to connected speech tasks? (3) Does the speed at which the picture is named after therapy predict whether it will also be used appropriately in connected speech tasks?

Methods & Procedures: Seven participants with aphasia of varying degrees of severity and subtype took part in ten therapy sessions over five weeks. A set of potentially useful items was collected from control participant accounts of the Cookie Theft Picture Description and the Cinderella Story from the Quantitative Production Analysis. Twenty-four of these words (twelve verbs and twelve nouns) were collated for each participant, on the basis that they had failed to name them in either simple picture naming or connected speech tasks (picture-supported narrative and unsupported retelling of a narrative). These were placed in a larger cohort of verb and noun sets for therapy. Post-therapy assessments examined naming accuracy and speed of target items in single-word picture-naming and naming accuracy in connected speech contexts.

Outcomes & Results: There was a step-wise decrement in naming accuracy over the three naming contexts following targeted therapy. Simple pictures elicited the most correct names, followed by picture-supported narratives and lastly unsupported narratives. Picture-naming accuracy significantly predicted naming in the connected speech contexts for the group as a whole. The speed of picture naming after therapy did not predict the extent to which items were named in composite picture description and narrative tasks.

Conclusions & Implications: The findings suggest that gains in naming accuracy obtained through picture-naming therapy may generalize to naming of the same items in more linguistically and cognitively demanding connected speech tasks. Demonstrating this generalization is methodologically challenging and the method utilized in this study may serve as one starting point for gathering a larger database in order to answer the question posed by this paper more robustly.

from the International Journal of Language and Communication Disorders

Improved vocabulary production after naming therapy in aphasia: can gains in picture naming generalise to connected speech?

Background: Naming accuracy for nouns and verbs in aphasia can vary across different elicitation contexts, for example, simple picture naming, composite picture description, narratives, and conversation. For some people with aphasia, naming may be more accurate to simple pictures as opposed to naming in spontaneous, connected speech; for others, the opposite pattern may be evident. These differences have, in some instances, been related to word class (for example, noun or verb) as well as aphasia subtype. Given that the aim of picture-naming therapies is to improve word-finding in general, these differences in naming accuracy across contexts may have important implications for the potential functional benefits of picture-naming therapies.

Aims: This study aimed to explore single-word therapy for both nouns and verbs, and to answer the following questions. (1) To what extent does an increase in naming accuracy after picture-naming therapy (for both nouns and verbs) predict accurate naming of the same items in less constrained spontaneous connected speech tasks such as composite picture description and retelling of a narrative? (2) Does the word class targeted in therapy (verb or noun) dictate whether there is ‘carry-over’ of the therapy item to connected speech tasks? (3) Does the speed at which the picture is named after therapy predict whether it will also be used appropriately in connected speech tasks?

Methods & Procedures: Seven participants with aphasia of varying degrees of severity and subtype took part in ten therapy sessions over five weeks. A set of potentially useful items was collected from control participant accounts of the Cookie Theft Picture Description and the Cinderella Story from the Quantitative Production Analysis. Twenty-four of these words (twelve verbs and twelve nouns) were collated for each participant, on the basis that they had failed to name them in either simple picture naming or connected speech tasks (picture-supported narrative and unsupported retelling of a narrative). These were placed in a larger cohort of verb and noun sets for therapy. Post-therapy assessments examined naming accuracy and speed of target items in single-word picture-naming and naming accuracy in connected speech contexts.

Outcomes & Results: There was a step-wise decrement in naming accuracy over the three naming contexts following targeted therapy. Simple pictures elicited the most correct names, followed by picture-supported narratives and lastly unsupported narratives. Picture-naming accuracy significantly predicted naming in the connected speech contexts for the group as a whole. The speed of picture naming after therapy did not predict the extent to which items were named in composite picture description and narrative tasks.

Conclusions & Implications: The findings suggest that gains in naming accuracy obtained through picture-naming therapy may generalize to naming of the same items in more linguistically and cognitively demanding connected speech tasks. Demonstrating this generalization is methodologically challenging and the method utilized in this study may serve as one starting point for gathering a larger database in order to answer the question posed by this paper more robustly.

from the International Journal of Language and Communication Disorders

Narrative after traumatic brain injury: A comparison of monologic and jointly-produced discourse

Conclusions: The natural scaffolding provided by the friends of participants with TBI in a meaningful narrative task facilitated competent participation in and production of narrative. These findings indicate an avenue for training everyday communication partners in supporting narrative skills after TBI, and for the use of jointly-produced narrative as an additional assessment tool to create a holistic view of everyday skills.

from Brain Injury

A linguistic communication measure for monitoring changes in Chinese aphasic narrative production

This study investigated the usefulness of the Cantonese Linguistic Communication Measure (CLCM) in monitoring changes of narrative production in five Chinese adults with aphasia in the period of spontaneous recovery (SR group) and four who underwent anomia therapies (Tx group). Language samples elicited from a picture description task were collected among SR participants at regular intervals within the first 6 months post-onset and among Tx participants before and after treatment. Results showed that the CLCM indices could reflect changes of language production in these individuals over time. The changes of index values were consistent with the expectations of performance during early stages after stroke for the SR participants and treatment outcomes of the Tx participants. While the CLCM has previously been shown to be useful in measuring aphasic narratives on a single occasion, this study has provided further evidence of its capability to monitor changes of language production over time.

from Clinical Linguistics and Phonetics

Noun Phrase Elaboration in Children’s Spoken Stories.

Conclusion: There are important developmental changes in noun phrase elaboration in the elementary school years as children learn to manage narrative contexts. Even within picture tasks, variations in visual depiction can affect the use of elaborated noun phrases (ENPs), with more descriptive language more likely to occur in narratives based on a single picture fantasy context than on a realistic picture sequence context. Performance expectations for types of ENPs within these contexts are provided. These findings will be useful to school clinicians in evaluating and working on narrative language within the elementary school period. [ABSTRACT FROM AUTHOR]

from Language, Speech, and Hearing Services in Schools