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The Importance of Verbs in Diagnosing Aphasia

EasyChair Preprint no. 6437

3 pagesDate: August 27, 2021


In clinical practice, standardized tests are used to assess the presence of aphasia. Verbs often play a minor role in these tests. Their role in language, however, is essential and they are known to be more difficult to retrieve for people with aphasia (PWA). Therefore, milder forms of aphasia might be missed in the diagnostic process. In the current study, we investigate whether people with brain-damage, but no diagnosed aphasia (BDnoA) show specific problems in verb retrieval and if so, whether similar psycholinguistic variables drive the performance as is the case in aphasia, e.g., age of acquisition (AoA) and imageability (Bastiaanse, Wieling, & Wolthuis, 2016).
61 non-brain-damaged speakers (NBD), 48 PWA and 12 BDnoA performed an object naming (ON) and an action naming (AN) task. In ON, PWA were less accurate than NBD and BDnoA, with no difference between the latter two. For AN, PWA scored worse than NBD and tended to be less accurate than BDnoA. BDnoA scored worse than NBD. Further investigation of AN in the BDnoA group showed that ‘AoA’ and ‘imageability’ predicted the outcome, but not ‘frequency’ or ‘length’.
While results confirmed that BDnoA did not perform worse than NBD in ON, their deficits in verb retrieval, albeit small, are clearly visible. Common diagnostic batteries might miss these mild language deficits as verbs are not included or only play a minor role in the assessment. The performance of the BD group was driven by age of acquisition and imageability, in line with findings of Bastiaanse, Wieling, and Wolthuis (2016) for PWA. The underlying deficit, therefore, seems comparable and BDnoA might present with a mild form of aphasia. With the current data we cannot exclude other, not language-specific causes for the verb retrieval deficit with certainty. Nonetheless, in order not to overlook mild cases, verb retrieval should play a more prominent role in the assessment process.

Keyphrases: action naming, assessment, mild aphasia, verb retrieval

BibTeX entry
BibTeX does not have the right entry for preprints. This is a hack for producing the correct reference:
  author = {Dörte de Kok and Roelien Bastiaanse},
  title = {The Importance of Verbs in Diagnosing Aphasia},
  howpublished = {EasyChair Preprint no. 6437},

  year = {EasyChair, 2021}}
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