IMPLICITLY PRIMING SENTENCE PRODUCTION IN PERSONS WITH APHASIA USING A COMPREHENSION TASK
thesisposted on 2021-07-22, 02:49 authored by Briana CoxBriana Cox
Background: Structural priming – a tendency to reuse previously encountered sentence structures – has been shown to facilitate production of sentences in persons with aphasia (PWA). However, the task-specific and person-specific factors that modulate the strength of priming effects in PWA remain largely unknown. This study examined (a) if PWA and healthy older adults (HOA) demonstrate improved production of passive sentences following comprehension of passive (as opposed to active) prime sentences, (b) whether repeated use of a verb between a prime and target sentence boosts priming effects, and (c) whether individual participants’ deficits in syntactic processing modulate degrees of priming effects.
Method: The participants (16 HOA and 13 PWA) completed a comprehension-to-production structural priming task. For prime sentences, they completed a sentence-to-picture matching comprehension task. Then, they described a target action picture, which could be described in an active or passive sentence structure. For half of the prime-target pairs, the verb was repeated to compare the priming effects in the same vs. different verb prime conditions (i.e., lexical boost). To analyze individual variability, we examined if PWA’s scores on clinical measures of syntactic comprehension and production were associated with a positive priming effect.
Results: Both HOA and PWA showed increased production of passive sentences following comprehension of passive primes, although the priming effect was reduced for PWA. A significant lexical boost was found in HOA, but not for PWA. Within PWA, individuals with higher scores on clinical measures of syntactic production, but not syntactic comprehension, showed a significant priming effect.
Conclusion: The findings suggest that implicit comprehension-to-production structural priming is preserved in aphasia and that lexically-mediated structural priming may not be critical to effectiveness of structural priming in aphasia. Preliminary results indicate that individuals’ syntactic skills in the domain of production may need to be considered when comprehension-to-production priming is used to improve sentence production.