A study of syntactic processing in aphasia II: neurological aspects

Caplan D, Waters G, Kennedy D, Alpert N, Makris N, Dede G, Michaud J, Reddy A

Brain Lang 2007 May;101(2):151-77

PMID: 16997366


This paper presents the results of a study of the effects of left hemisphere strokes on syntactically-based comprehension in aphasic patients. We studied 42 patients with aphasia secondary to left hemisphere strokes and 25 control subjects for the ability to assign and interpret three syntactic structures (passives, object extracted relative clauses, and reflexive pronouns) in enactment, sentence-picture matching and grammaticality judgment tasks. We measured accuracy, RT and self-paced listening times in SPM and GJ. We obtained magnetic resonance (MR) and 5-deoxyglucose positron emission tomography (FDG PET) data on 31 patients and 12 controls. The percent of selected regions of interest (ROIs) that was lesioned on MR and the mean normalized PET counts per voxel in ROIs were calculated. In regression analyses, lesion measures in both perisylvian and non-perisylvian ROIs predicted performance. Patients who performed at similar levels behaviorally had lesions of very different sizes, and patients with equivalent lesion sizes varied greatly in their level of performance. The data are consistent with a model in which the neural tissue that is responsible for the operations underlying sentence comprehension and syntactic processing is localized in different neural regions in different individuals.