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Clin Linguist Phon. 2009 Jan;23(1):15-37. doi: 10.1080/02699200802394880.

Sentence comprehension in agrammatic aphasia: history and variability to clinical implications.

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Fletcher Allen Health Care, Burlington, VT 05405, USA.


Individuals with Broca's aphasia often present with deficits in their ability to comprehend non-canonical sentences. This has been contrastingly characterized as a systematic loss of specific grammatical abilities or as individual variability in the dynamics between processing load and resource availability. The present study investigated sentence level comprehension in participants with Broca's aphasia in an attempt to integrate these contrasting views into a clinically useful process. Two participants diagnosed with Broca's aphasia were assessed using a sentence-to-picture matching paradigm and a truth-value judgement task, across sentence constructions thought to be problematic for this population. The data demonstrate markedly different patterns of performance between participants, as well as variability within participants (e.g. by sentence type). These findings support the notion of individual performance variability in persons with aphasia. Syntactic theory was instructive for assessing sentence level comprehension, leading to a clinically relevant process of identifying treatment targets considering both performance variability and syntactic complexity for this population.

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