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Processing events : investigating event conceptualisation in aphasia

Caims, D.K. (2006). Processing events : investigating event conceptualisation in aphasia. (Unpublished Doctoral thesis, City University London)


Some people with aphasia may have difficulty in talking about events because of trouble in processing situations in a language-ready fashion. A number of models of language production include a level at which messages are shaped to the demands of a particular language system. However, the relation between such conceptual processing and production in aphasia has been less fully explored. This study takes an empirical approach, investigating the relationship between the verb and sentence difficulties of six people with aphasia and their conceptualisation of events. Following a range of preparatory assessments, so individuals were hypothesised to have some difficulty in conceptualising events for language. Three novel tests were then devised to explore the skills of these individuals, and in one case, the whole group, in more detail. One test examines participants' focus over pictured situations, through their naming of the people and objects involved. A second probes the adoption of perspective over a particularly problematic situation type, investigating the effect of visual and linguistic cues on verb production. The third test focuses on gesture, exploring the relationship between verbal description and the production of action gestures. One participant's drawing of simple events was also probed using a recently developed assessment (Sacchett, 2005). In each case the results point to some differences between the participants with aphasia and a group of non-brain damaged speakers, thus providing support for the psychological reality of the notion of 'thinking for speaking' (Slobin, 1996) in aphasia. In addition, the test findings bring to light some previously hidden processing strengths. However, they also highlight the difficulty both of designing valid tests in this area and of accurately interpreting their results. The discussion considers the implications of the findings for therapy in aphasia, and for our understanding of the relationship between language loss and event conceptualisation.

Publication Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Subjects: R Medicine
Departments: School of Health & Psychological Sciences > Language & Communication Science
Doctoral Theses
School of Health & Psychological Sciences > School of Health & Psychological Sciences Doctoral Theses
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