Event Abstract

Language recovery in aphasia following implicit structural priming

  • 1 Purdue University, Department of Speech, Language, and Hearing Sciences, United States

Structural priming has been viewed as a form of language learning via transient activation of a prime in short-term explicit memory (Branigan et al., 2000; Levelt & Kelter, 1982) or through long-term adaptation in implicit learning processes (Bock & Griffin, 2000; Chang et al., 2006). Studies with children and healthy adults show that implicit priming show persisting learning effects, while explicit priming does not (Branigan et al., 2016; Shin & Christiaansen, 2012). Both explicit and implicit priming facilitate sentence production in speakers with agrammatic aphasia indicating intact learning of abstract syntactic structures (Saffran & Martin, 1997; Hartsuiker & Kolk, 1998; Cho-Reyes et al., 2016). However, it remains unclear (a) whether structural priming can be utilized to target long-lasting language recovery in aphasia and (b) if implicit vs. explicit structural priming would result in different treatment outcomes. We report an ongoing study examining the effects of implicit and explicit structural priming on language recovery in agrammatic aphasia. Two agrammatic participants (MJ and RS), matched in language profile and severity, were trained on production of prepositional-dative (PD) sentences (e.g., ‘the boy is giving the guitar to the singer’). MJ received implicit priming training with four intervening unrelated sentences and no lexical verb overlap between prime and target. RS received explicit priming training with no intervening sentences and the same lexical verb between prime and target. In both training conditions, the structural priming was disguised as a sentence recognition task. The participants’ productions of trained and untrained PD sentences in a picture description task were assessed via daily probes. Importantly, maintenance of treatment gains was measured at 4-week post treatment and generalization effects were measured by comparing production of narrative speech samples (Cinderella story; WAB picture description) pre- vs. post-treatment. Both participants received training sessions 3 times a week. Training was terminated at either a ceiling of 15 sessions or 90% accuracy or higher on 3 consecutive probes. MJ significantly improved in her production of trained as well as untrained PD sentences (from 0% to 90-100%) following 12 implicit training sessions (Figure 1a). Importantly, MJ’s treatment effects were maintained at a 4-week follow-up and resulted in improved performance on narrative speech tasks, as measured by increased productions of correct information units (18.5% change) and sentences with correct argument structure (3 to 18). Conversely, RS did not show reliable treatment outcomes after 15 sessions of explicit training; although he showed moderate improvement in producing trained PD sentences (0% to 40%), no improvement in untrained sentences and maintenance effects were shown (Figure 1b). He did not improve in narrative speech production either (1.5% change in % CIUs, number of sentences with correct argument structure: 1 to 2). Although preliminary, these findings suggest that structural priming can be used as a treatment paradigm targeting long-term language recovery in aphasia. Specifically, implicit structural priming may result in global language improvement through long-term adaptation of abstract syntactic processes in persons with aphasia (Shin & Christiaansen, 2012; Branigan et al., 2016).

Figure 1

Keywords: structural priming, agrammatic aphasia, langauge treatment, sentence production, langauge learning, Aphasia treatment, implicit learning

Conference: 54th Annual Academy of Aphasia Meeting, Llandudno, United Kingdom, 16 Oct - 18 Oct, 2016.

Presentation Type: Poster Sessions

Topic: Academy of Aphasia

Citation: Man G and Lee J (2016). Language recovery in aphasia following implicit structural priming. Front. Psychol. Conference Abstract: 54th Annual Academy of Aphasia Meeting. doi: 10.3389/conf.fpsyg.2016.68.00074

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Received: 29 Apr 2016; Published Online: 15 Aug 2016.

* Correspondence: PhD. Jiyeon Lee, Purdue University, Department of Speech, Language, and Hearing Sciences, West Lafayette, IN, 47906, United States, lee1704@purdue.edu