This study aimed at examining morphological processing mechanisms involved in lexical access across the lifespan in the morphologically complex Russian language. We conducted an unprimed lexical decision experiment using number-dominant nouns in participants of a wide age range (n = 190, 9–87 years old), analysing age as a continuous factor. Additionally, we tested whether morphological processing mechanisms are affected by a linguistic factor – the type of plural formation. The results revealed no age-related change in morphological processing mechanisms in Russian: the processing mechanisms were consistent with the dual-route models across the lifespan. This suggests that morphological processing mechanisms are stable across the lifespan even in a morphologically complex language like Russian. Null effects of the type of plural formation provide evidence in favour of a special status of citation forms.
This eye-tracking study establishes basic eye-movement benchmarks in heritage language (HL) Russian-speaking adults and adolescents of high (n = 21) and low proficiency (n = 27) who read sentences in Cyrillic and compares them with those of monolingual skilled adult readers, 8-year-old children and L2 learners. Eye-movement reading patterns of Heritage Speakers (HS) revealed longer mean fixation durations, lower skipping probability, and higher regressive saccade rates than monolingual adults. High-proficient HSs were more similar to monolingual children, while low-proficient HSs performed on par with L2 learners. Low-proficient HS differed from high-proficient HS in exhibiting lower skipping probabilities, higher fixation counts, and larger frequency effects. Taken together, our findings are consistent with the weaker links account of bilingual language processing as well as the divergent attainment theory of HL.
Background: Coherence is the quality which distinguishes discourse from a random collection of sentences. People with aphasia have been reported to produce less-coherent discourse than non-language-impaired speakers. It is largely unclear how coherence is established in natural language and what leads to its impairment in aphasia.
Aims: This paper presents a cross-methodological investigation on coherence in discourse of Russian native speakers with and without aphasia. The purpose of this study was to examine the connection between language impairments in aphasia and different aspects of discourse coherence in order to determine the linguistic mechanisms that could be involved in establishing and maintaining it.
Methods & Procedures: Coherence was operationalised as a combination of four aspects: informativeness, clarity, connectedness, and understandability. Twenty participants were asked to retell the content of a short movie. The retellings were annotated using Rhetorical Structure Theory (RST), a formalistic framework for discourse-structure analysis. Next, they were evaluated for coherence on a four-point scale by trained raters. The ratings were compared between groups. A classification analysis was performed to determine whether the ratings could be predicted based on the macrolinguistic variables collected from the RST annotations and several microlinguistic variables previously linked to coherence.
Results: Retellings produced by speakers with aphasia received lower ratings than those of control participants on all aspects of coherence. The results indicate that different combinations of microlinguistic and discourse-structure variables play a role in establishing each of the coherence aspects.
Conclusions: Our results provided supporting evidence on coherence impairment in aphasia. Perception of a discourse as more or less coherent was associated with both micro- and macrolinguistic variables, with different combinations of variables relevant for each of the aspects. Furthermore, we found that discourse structure plays an important role, especially for understandability. We speculate that pragmatic knowledge shared by interlocutors may boost coherence of aphasic discourse.
During reading or listening, people can generate predictions about the lexical and morphosyntactic properties of upcoming input based on available context. Psycholinguistic experiments that study predictability or control for it conventionally rely on a human-based approach and estimate predictability via the cloze task. Our study investigated an alternative corpus-based approach for estimating predictability via language predictability models. We obtained cloze and corpus-based probabilities for all words in 144 Russian sentences, correlated the two measures, and found a strong correlation between them. Importantly, we estimated how much variance in eye movements registered while reading the same sentences was explained by each of the two probabilities and whether the two probabilities explain the same variance. Along with lexical predictability (the activation of a particular word form), we analyzed morphosyntactic predictability (the activation of morphological features of words) and its effect on reading times over and above lexical predictability. We found that for predicting reading times, cloze and corpus-based measures of both lexical and morphosyntactic predictability explained the same amount of variance. However, cloze and corpus-based lexical probabilities both independently contributed to a better model fit, whereas for morphosyntactic probabilities, the contributions of cloze and corpus-based measures were interchangeable. Therefore, morphosyntactic but not lexical corpus-based probabilities can substitute for cloze probabilities in reading experiments. Our results also indicate that in languages with rich inflectional morphology, such as Russian, when people engage in prediction, they are much more successful in predicting isolated morphosyntactic features than predicting the particular lexeme and its full morphosyntactic markup.
The Aphasia Bedside Check for Russian (ABC-Ru) is a screening test that allows the medical staff of a neurological ward to detect speech/language disorders in the first days post-stroke onset. To evaluate whether this test follows modern psychometric standards, we performed two studies. In Study 1, we reported the results of the standardization of the ABC-Ru in a clinical group of people with chronic speech/language disorders (N=80) and a cohort of neurologically healthy individuals (N=120). In Study 2, we validated the results in a group of people in the acute post-stroke period (N=20) with and without speech/language disorders. According to the results of the study, the ABC-Ru can be considered as a valid instrument and can potentially be used in neurological departments for the screening of speech and language disorders.
It has been demonstrated that reference to the past is difficult for individuals with agrammatic aphasia, leading to the formulation of the PAst DIscourse LInking Hypothesis (PADILIH). Many of the previous studies have focused on Indo-European languages, in which time reference is expressed through verb inflection. The current study examined the PADILIH in Thai, a language that does not use verb inflection but instead uses aspectual markers to refer to time.
We aimed to evaluate the pattern of impairment of time reference in Thai speakers with agrammatic aphasia, by investigating how grammatical reference to past, present, and future was processed.
Methods and Procedures
A total of 15 Thai agrammatic speakers and 18 Thai non-brain-damaged (NBD) speakers participated in a sentence production task and an auditory sentence-to-picture matching comprehension task, both of which probed past, present, and future time reference.
Outcomes and Results
While the NBD participants performed close to ceiling in both production and comprehension, the agrammatic speakers showed significantly more difficulty in conditions requiring reference to the future in both modalities. In production, however, the agrammatic speakers replaced the target future time reference construction with negation (a construction that can be used as an alternative means for future reference). When responses using negation were counted as correct, the individuals with agrammatic aphasia showed equal impairment across conditions.
The results of this study were inconsistent with the PADILIH predictions: Thai agrammatic speakers experienced more vulnerability in reference to the future than the present and the past. This suggested that impairments of time reference may differ depending on the structure of the language. We hypothesized that the problems with producing future time reference in Thai may be influenced by the grammatical status of the future marker. In addition, the use of negation in place of the target word might have been because this negative construction reduces the processing load for Thai agrammatic speakers.
Disorganized, or incoherent, speech is one of the important criteria for diagnosing schizophrenia. However, there is still a lack of a rather quick objective method of measuring speech coherence. Automated discourse analysis is a possible solution to this problem. We analyzed discourse coherence in a set of spoken narratives by people with schizophrenia and neurotypical speakers of Russian. All narratives were manually rated for violations of completeness, local, global and dimensional coherence. A number of automated vector semantics methods were used for approximation of the manual rating scores. The metrics used proved to be a good approximation for manual scoring, and a combination of them was efficient for classification narratives in schizophrenia and neurotypical groups.
The objective of this systematic review is to create an overview of the literature on the comparison of navigated transcranial magnetic stimulation (nTMS) as a mapping tool to the current gold standard, which is (intraoperative) direct cortical stimulation (DCS) mapping. A search in the databases of PubMed, EMBASE, and Web of Science was performed. The Preferred Reporting Items for Systematic Reviews and Meta-Analyses (PRISMA) guidelines and recommendations were used. Thirty-five publications were included in the review, describing a total of 552 patients. All studies concerned either mapping of motor or language function. No comparative data for nTMS and DCS for other neurological functions were found. For motor mapping, the distances between the cortical representation of the different muscle groups identified by nTMS and DCS varied between 2 and 16 mm. Regarding mapping of language function, solely an object naming task was performed in the comparative studies on nTMS and DCS. Sensitivity and specificity ranged from 10 to 100% and 13.3–98%, respectively, when nTMS language mapping was compared with DCS mapping. The positive predictive value (PPV) and negative predictive value (NPV) ranged from 17 to 75% and 57–100% respectively. The available evidence for nTMS as a mapping modality for motor and language function is discussed.
Background: The important role of phonological processing for reading has been demonstrated by many studies. The purpose of this research was to investigate the role of phonological processing for reading in Russian. Specifically, we tested whether the overall complexity of a phonological task predicts reading fluency and reading comprehension.
Method: We used seven phonological tests ranked according to the number of linguistic processes involved in each task. We examined the relative difficulty of the tests and the relationship between phonological processing and reading skills (reading fluency and comprehension of simpler and more difficult texts) in 90 typically developing 7 to 11 years-of-age Russian-speaking children.
Results: Phonological tests that involved more linguistic processes had lower response accuracies. At the individual level, a greater estimated cost of adding a linguistic process to a phonological test was associated with a reliable decrease in reading fluency, but not reading comprehension.
Conclusions: Our findings confirmed the substantial role of phonological processing in reading acquisition, while stressing a higher predictive value of more complex phonological tests for reading fluency. The relationship between phonological processing and reading comprehension, in Russian, needs further investigations.
The left frontal aslant tract (FAT) has been proposed to be relevant for language, and specifically for spontaneous speech fluency. However, there is missing causal evidence that stimulation of the FAT affects spontaneous speech, and not language production in general. We present a series of 12 neurosurgical cases with awake language mapping of the cortex near the left FAT. Tasks for language mapping included the commonly used action picture naming, and sentence completion, tapping more specifically into spontaneous speech. A task dissociation was found in 10 participants: while being stimulated on specific sites, they were able to name a picture but could not complete a sentence. Overlaying of these sites on preoperative white-matter tract reconstructions revealed that in each individual case they were located on cortical terminations of the FAT. This corroborates the language functional specificity of the left FAT as a tract underlying fluent spontaneous speech.
Polinsky and Scontras (Polinsky & Scontras), in their thought-provoking keynote article, bring together two perspectives on heritage languages, i.e., of theoretical linguistics and of psycho- linguistics, and show how they interact and enrich each other. The authors list three causes of differences (transfer from the dominant language, attrition, divergent attainment) and out- comes (avoidance of ambiguity, resistance to irregularity, shrinkage of structure) of how the heritage languages differ from their baselines, but say that they do not know whether there is “agency on the part of heritage speakers” with regards to these outcomes. In this commen- tary, we provide psycholinguistic evidence that supports Polinsky and Scontras’ idea of how important it is for psycholinguistics and the linguistic theory of heritage languages to feed each other. We show that (a) heritage speakers’ processing can diverge from the baseline in online but not offline measures, (b) transfer from the dominant language does not always hap- pen, and (c) heritage speakers can actively shape their processing that can contribute to heri- tage language restructuring in a chain reaction fashion.
Implicit-statistical learning (ISL) research investigates whether domain-general mechanisms are recruited in the linguistic processes that require manipulation of patterned regularities (e.g. syntax). Aphasia is a language disorder caused by focal brain damage in the left fronto-temporal-parietal network. Research shows that people with aphasia (PWA) with frontal lobe lesions manifest convergent deficits in syntax and ISL mechanisms. So far, ISL mechanisms in PWA with temporal or parietal lobe lesions have not been systematically investigated.
We investigated two complementary hypotheses: 1) the anatomical hypothesis, that PWA with frontal lesions display more severely impaired ISL abilities than PWA with posterior lesions and 2) the behavioural hypothesis, that the magnitude of impairment in ISL mechanisms correlates to syntactic deficits in aphasia.
We tested 13 PWA, 5 with frontal lesions and 8 with posterior lesions, and 11 non-brain-damaged controls on a visual statistical learning (VSL) task. In addition, all PWA completed several linguistic tasks. Reaction times, obtained in the VSL task, were analyzed using linear mixed-effects model. Correlational statistics were used to assess the relationship between VSL task performance and linguistic measures.
Results and Discussion
We did not find support for the anatomical hypothesis as patients with spared frontal regions also manifested impaired ISL mechanisms. This is attributed to a) ISL mechanisms being vulnerable to other cognitive dysfunctions and/or b) ISL mechanisms anatomically extending to the posterior brain regions. Notably, ISL mechanisms were impaired, but not absent in aphasia. With regards to the behavioural hypothesis, we provide empirical evidence of correlation between ISL mechanisms and syntactic, but not lexical impairment in aphasia. We discuss both the theoretical contributions to the debate of domain-independence of ISL mechanisms and clinical implications for implicit language therapy.
The frontal aslant tract (FAT) is a white-matter tract connecting the inferior frontal gyrus (IFG) and the supplementary motor complex (SMC). Damage to either component of the network causes spontaneous speech dysfluency, indicating its critical role in language production. However, spontaneous speech dysfluency may stem from various lower-level linguistic deficits, precluding inferences about the nature of linguistic processing subserved by the IFG-SMC network. Since the IFG and the SMC are attributed a role in conceptual and lexical selection during language production, we hypothesized that these processes rely on the IFG-SMC connectivity via the FAT. We analysed the effects of FAT volume on conceptual and lexical selection measures following frontal lobe stroke. The measures were obtained from the sentence completion (SC) task, tapping into conceptual and lexical selection, and the picture-word interference (PWI) task, providing a more specific measure of lexical selection. Lower FAT volume was not associated with lower conceptual or lexical selection abilities in our patient cohort. Current findings stand in marked discrepancy with previous lesion and neuroimaging evidence for the joint contribution of the IFG and the SMC to lexical and conceptual selection. A plausible explanation reconciling this discrepancy is that the IFG-SMC connectivity via the FAT does contribute to conceptual and/or lexical selection but its disrupted function undergoes reorganisation over the course of post-stroke recovery. Thus, our negative findings stress the importance of testing the causal role of the FAT in lexical and conceptual selection in patients with more acute frontal lobe lesions.
The goal of the present study was to investigate the interaction between different senses of polysemous nouns (metonymies and metaphors) and different meanings of homonyms using the method of event-related potentials (ERPs) and a priming paradigm. Participants read two-word phrases containing ambiguous words and made a sensicality judgment. Phrases with polysemes highlighted their literal sense and were preceded by primes with either the same or different – metonymic or metaphorical – sense. Similarly, phrases with homonyms were primed by phrases with a consistent or inconsistent meaning of the noun. The results demonstrated that polysemous phrases with literal senses preceded by metonymic primes did not differ in ERP responses from the control condition with the same literal primes. In contrast, processing phrases with the literal sense preceded by metaphorical primes resulted in N400 and P600 effects that might reflect a very limited priming effect. The priming effect observed between metonymic and literal senses supports the idea that these senses share a single representation in the mental lexicon. In contrast, the effects observed for polysemes with metaphorical primes characterize lexical access to the word’s target sense and competition between the two word senses. The processing of homonyms preceded by the prime with an inconsistent meaning, although it did not elicit an N400 effect, was accompanied by a P600 effect as compared to the control condition with a consistent meaning of the prime. We suppose that the absence of the N400 effect may result from inhibition of the target meaning by the inconsistent prime, whereas the P600 response might reflect processes of reanalysis, activation, and integration of the target meaning. Our results provide additional evidence for the difference in processing mechanisms between metonymies and metaphors that might have separate representations in the mental lexicon, although they are more related as compared to homonyms.
This chapter deals with segmentation, definition of reference units and annotation of the first corpus of Russian narratives by individuals with brain damage – people with aphasia and right hemisphere damage – and neurologically healthy speakers. We show that such parameters as pause length and intonation contours cannot be used for segmentation of impaired speech. Instead, we use syntactic criteria for identification of the reference, or – as they are called in this paper – elementary discourse units (EDUs). The Russian CliPS (Clinical Pear Stories) corpus contains multi-layer annotation of audio- and video-recordings, performed on micro- and macro-linguistic level, and can be used as a source for qualitative and quantitative research on various aspects of speech in aphasia and right hemisphere damage.
Handedness is the most prominent trait of functional asymmetry in humans, associated with lateralized cognitive functions and considered in relation to mental disorders. However, the neuroanatomical correlates of handedness are still unclear. It has been hypothesized that the structural properties of sub-regions of the corpus callosum (CC) are linked to handedness. Nevertheless, tractography studies of the relation between directly measured structural properties of CC subregions and handedness are lacking. The Constrained Spherical Deconvolution (CSD) approach enables full reconstruction of the sub-regions of the CC. The current study aimed to investigate the relation between the structural properties of the CC, such as volume and the CSD metric, referred to as hindrance modulated orientational anisotropy (HMOA), and handedness. Handedness was considered in two dimensions: direction (right-handed, ambidextrous, left-handed) and degree (the absolute values of Handedness quotient). We found no association between 1) volume or HMOA as a proxy of microstructural properties, namely the axonal diameter and fiber dispersion, of each sub-region and 2) either the direction or the degree of handedness. These findings suggest the absence of a direct relation between sub-regions of the CC and handedness, demonstrating the necessity of future tractography studies.
People with aphasia (PWA) often demonstrate verb and sentence processing impairments, in production as well as in comprehension modalities. Meanwhile, patterns of impairment are typically studied at the group level, in groups of PWA with specific aphasia types (e.g., Broca's aphasia), or in case-series with small sample sizes. Our aim was to investigate if there are consistent patterns of impairment on the Russian version of the Verb and Sentence Test (Bastiaanse et al., 2000) in a large group of PWA (N = 54). We used a data-driven classification method that does not require information about aphasia types - k-means cluster analysis - and compared the results with the clinical diagnoses of the PWA. As a follow-up analysis, we used Crawford's single case methodology (Crawford et al., 2010) to further investigate patterns of impairment within the revealed clusters.
Background: Languages of the world have several ways of expressing time reference. Many languages such as those in the Indo-European group express time reference through tense. Languages such as Chinese and Standard Indonesian express time reference through aspectual adverbs, while Akan does so through grammatical tone. Previous studies have found that time reference is selectively impaired, with reference to the past being more impaired than reference to the non-past. The PAst DIscourse LInking Hypothesis (PADILIH) posits that pastime reference is difficult because it requires discourse linking.
Aims: The goal of this study was first to examine whether pastime reference is impaired also in languages that do not use grammatical affixes but rather tone, to make time reference. Second, this study aims to decouple the effect of tone from the effect of temporal reference on Akan verbs.
Method and Procedures: Ten Akan agrammatic speakers and 10 non-brain-damaged speakers (NBDs) participated in this study. An Akan adapted version of the Test for Assessing Reference of Time (African TART), for both production and comprehension was used. The TART focuses on the future, present (habitual) and the pastime frames. Additionally, five of the agrammatic speakers performed two tonal discrimination tasks: a non-linguistic and a linguistic (lexical) one.
Outcomes and Results: While the NBDs scored at ceiling, the agrammatic speakers made errors, and these affected past more than present and the future time references, in both comprehension and production tasks. However, the comprehension data showed a dissociation between the present habitual and the future. The substitution error analysis revealed a preference for the present. The five agrammatic speakers showed an intact performance on non-linguistic tonal discrimination task.
Conclusion: The conclusion is that regardless of how time reference is expressed, whether through inflectional morphology or grammatical tone, reference to the past is problematic for individuals with agrammatic aphasia. The fact that the agrammatic speakers could perceive the non-linguistic tonal differences demonstrates that it is not tone in general that is disrupted, but rather time reference, particularly reference to the past, as predicted by the PADILIH.
Corpus analyses of spontaneous language fragments of varying length provide useful insights in the language change caused by brain damage, such as caused by some forms of dementia. Sample size is an important experimental parameter to consider when designing spontaneous language analyses studies. Sample length influences the confidence levels of analyses. Machine learning approaches often favor to use as much language as available, whereas language evaluation in a clinical setting is often based on truncated samples to minimize annotation labor and to limit any discomfort for participants. This article investigates, using Bayesian estimation of machine learned models, what the ideal text length should be to minimize model uncertainty.
We use the Stanford parser to extract linguistic variables and train a statistic model to distinguish samples by speakers with no brain damage from samples by speakers with probable Alzheimer's disease. We compare the results to previously published models that used CLAN for linguistic analysis.
The uncertainty around six individual variables and its relation to sample length are reported. The same model with linguistic variables that is used in all three experiments can predict group membership better than a model without them. One variable (concept density) is more informative when measured using the Stanford tools than when measured using CLAN.
For our corpus of German speech, the optimal sample length is found to be around 700 words long. Longer samples do not provide more information.