Event Abstract

Reading and listening comprehension abilities in Cantonese-speaking people with aphasia and people with right hemisphere damage

  • 1 Hong Kong Polytechnic University, Hong Kong, SAR China
  • 2 University of Pittsburgh, United States

Introduction. Reading in Chinese has been associated with activation of the right hemisphere fusiform gyrus (Conrad, 2016) and occipital cortex, which contribute to the visual and spatial recognition of the visual symbols during the processing of Chinese characters (Clark et al., 1996; Shen et al., 1999). Listening comprehension has been relatively less associated with the right hemisphere activation (Tan et al., 2001). This preliminary study compares the reading and listening comprehension of left-brain damaged (LHD) people with aphasia (PWA) versus individuals with right hemisphere damage (RHD) without aphasia and neurotypical healthy controls (HC) using the newly developed Cantonese Computerized Revised Token Test (CRTT-Cantonese). Method. 30 native Cantonese PWA, 15 Cantonese speakers with RHD, and 30 HC have been recruited for this study. Initial data analyses were conducted based on data from 15 native Cantonese PWA and 15 HC (age range 49-69 years old) and 4 subjects with RHD. All the participants had more than six years of formal education with no premorbid history of speech, language, hearing or learning disabilities. All subjects completed the Cantonese Aphasia Battery (CAB), Hong Kong Oxford Cognitive Screen (HK-OCS), Snellen visual test, pure tone hearing screening test, and CRTT pretests in the first session. Participants were randomly assigned to perform either the CRTT listening (CRTT-L) or CRTT reading (CRTT-R) Cantonese tests across 2 separate sessions with at least one-week interval. Results. Statistical analyses revealed a significant difference between PWA and HC groups on the overall (F (1,28) = 24.8, p < .001) and efficiency (F (1,28)= 29.5, p < .001) scores on both CRTT-Cantonese language comprehension tests. However, there were no significant differences between CRTT-L or CRTT-R within PWA and HC groups. The case series analysis of the RHD subjects showed that their CRTT-L overall scores were between 1 to 1.5 SD above the mean overall scores of PWA, and within 1 SD above the mean overall scores for HC. However, the CRTT-R overall scores for RHD subjects fell within 1 to 2 SD below the mean overall scores of the HC and within 1 to 1.5 SD above the mean overall scores of the PWA. Conclusion. These preliminary results demonstrate that the CRTT-L-Cantonese and CRTT-R-Cantonese significantly differentiate the reading and listening comprehension of PWA versus HC. The data collection for people with RHD is still in progress. Therefore, consistent with the original non-computerized English Revised Token Test (McNeil and Prescott, 1978), it is anticipated that there will be significant differences between the people with RHD versus the PWA, and HC on the CRTT scores on both CRTT-R-Cantonese and CRTT-L-Cantonese at the group level. However, the current case series analysis indicated that listening comprehension of the RHD participants is more comparable to HC control than reading comprehension. This is more in line with the hypothesis that the RHD participants would show better performance on the listening comprehension test compared to the reading comprehension test since reading Chinese characters depends more heavily on the activation of the visuo-spatial processing, contributed by right hemisphere activations (Tan et al., 2001). Further data collection will clarify this issue.


We would like to acknowledge Suen Wing Yung, Fuk Yeung Cheung, and Wai Sin Wan for their great help in data collection at the initial phase of this project.


Clark, V. P., Keil, K., Maisog, J. M., Courtney, S., Ungerleider, L. G., and Haxby, J. V. 1996. Functional magnetic resonance imaging of human visual cortex during face matching: A comparison with positron emission tomography. NeuroImage 4: 1–15. Conrad, N. (2016). Does the Brain Read Chinese or Spanish the Same Way It Reads English?. Front. Young Minds. 4:26. doi: 10.3389/frym.2016.00026 McNeil, M. R., & Prescott, T. E. (1978). Revised token test. Pro-ed. Shen, L., Hu, X., Yacoub, E., and Ugurbil, K. 1999. Neural correlates of visual form and visual spatial processing. Hum. Brain Mapp. 8: 60 –71. Tan, L. H., Feng, C. M., Fox, P. T., & Gao, J. H. (2001). An fMRI study with written Chinese. Neuroreport, 12(1), 83-88.

Keywords: CRTT, listening comprehension, reading comprehension, Right hemisphere damage (RHD), Aphasia, Cantonese

Conference: Academy of Aphasia 57th Annual Meeting, Macau, Macao, SAR China, 27 Oct - 29 Oct, 2019.

Presentation Type: Poster presentation

Topic: Eligible for student award

Citation: Lam M, Bakhtiar M, Wong MN and McNeil MR (2019). Reading and listening comprehension abilities in Cantonese-speaking people with aphasia and people with right hemisphere damage. Front. Hum. Neurosci. Conference Abstract: Academy of Aphasia 57th Annual Meeting. doi: 10.3389/conf.fnhum.2019.01.00101

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Received: 01 May 2019; Published Online: 09 Oct 2019.

* Correspondence: Dr. Mehdi Bakhtiar, Hong Kong Polytechnic University, Kowloon, Hong Kong, SAR China, mbakhtiar@gmail.com