Syntactic and thematic components of sentence processing in progressive nonfluent aphasia and nonaphasic frontotemporal dementia

Jonathan E. Peelle, Ayanna Cooke, Peachie Moore, Luisa Vesely, Murray Grossman

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46 Scopus citations

Abstract

We used an online word-monitoring paradigm to examine sentence processing in healthy seniors and frontotemporal dementia patients with progressive nonfluent aphasia (PNFA) or a nonaphasic disorder of social and executive functioning (SOC/EXEC). Healthy seniors were sensitive to morphosyntactic, major grammatical subcategory, and selection restriction violations in a sentence. PNFA patients were insensitive to grammatical errors, but showed reasonable sensitivity to thematic matrix violations, consistent with a differential grammatical processing impairment. By contrast, SOC/EXEC patients showed partial sensitivity to grammatical errors but were insensitive to thematic violations. These findings support a dissociation between grammatical and thematic components of sentence processing. Specifically, they are consistent with a grammatical processing deficit in PNFA patients, and impairment in the formation of a coherent thematic matrix in SOC/EXEC patients.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)482-494
Number of pages13
JournalJournal of Neurolinguistics
Volume20
Issue number6
DOIs
StatePublished - Nov 2007

Keywords

  • Frontotemporal dementia
  • Grammar
  • Progressive aphasia
  • Sentence comprehension
  • Syntax
  • Thematic matrix

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