Tuesday, February 05, 2008

Neuropsychology Abstract of the Day: Aphasia

Baldo JV, Klostermann EC, & Dronkers NF. It's either a cook or a baker: Patients with conduction aphasia get the gist but lose the trace. Brain and Language. 2008 Feb 1 [Epub ahead of print]

VA Northern California Health Care System, Center for Aphasia and Related Disorders, 150 Muir Road (126s), Martinez, CA 94553, USA.

Patients with conduction aphasia have been characterized as having a short-term memory deficit that leads to relative difficulty on span and repetition tasks. It has also been observed that these same patients often get the gist of what is said to them, even if they are unable to repeat the information verbatim. To study this phenomenon experimentally, patients with conduction aphasia and left hemisphere-injured controls were tested on a repetition recognition task that required them to listen to a sentence and immediately point to one of three sentences that matched it. On some trials, the distractor sentences contained substituted words that were semantically-related to the target, and on other trials, the distractor sentences contained semantically-distinct words. Patients with conduction aphasia and controls performed well on the latter condition, when distractors were semantically-distinct. However, when the distractor sentences were semantically-related, the patients with conduction aphasia were impaired at identifying the target sentence, suggesting that these patients could not rely on the verbatim trace. To further understand these results, we also tested elderly controls on the same task, except that a delay was introduced between study and test. Like the patients with conduction aphasia, the elderly controls were worse at identifying target sentences when there were semantically-related distractors. Taken together, these results suggest that patients with conduction aphasia rely on non-phonologic cues, such as lexical-semantics, to support their short-term memory, just as normal participants must do in long-term memory tasks when the phonological trace is no longer present.

PMID: 18243294 [PubMed - as supplied by publisher]

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