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Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 1999 Jun 22;96(13):7592-7.

Impairments in verb morphology after brain injury: a connectionist model.

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Neuroscience Program, University of Southern California, Los Angeles, CA 90089-2520, USA.


The formation of the past tense of verbs in English has been the focus of the debate concerning connectionist vs. symbolic accounts of language. Brain-injured patients differ with respect to whether they are more impaired in generating irregular past tenses (TAKE-TOOK) or past tenses for nonce verbs (WUG-WUGGED). Such dissociations have been taken as evidence for distinct "rule" and "associative" memory systems in morphology and against the connectionist approach in which a single system is used for all forms. We describe a simulation model in which these impairments arise from damage to phonological or semantic information, which have different effects on generalization and irregular forms, respectively. The results provide an account of the bases of impairments in verb morphology and show that these impairments can be explained within connectionist models that do not use rules or a separate mechanism for exceptions.

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