New publication in Aphasiology

PhD students Nele Verreyt, Louisa Bogaerts en Uschi Cop just published a new paper in the journal aphasiology: “Syntactic priming in bilingual patients with parallel and differential aphasia”. Other co-authors are Sarah Bernolet, Miet De Letter, Dimitri Hemelsoet and Patrick Santens.

Neural representations of syntax are shared across languages in bilinguals

Background: Syntactic priming is the phenomenon by which the production or processing of a sentence is facilitated when that sentence is preceded by a sentence with a similar syntactic structure. Previous research has shown that this phenomenon also occurs across languages, i.e., hearing a sentence in one language can facilitate the production of a sentence with the same structure in another language. This suggests that syntactic representations are shared across languages.

Aims. The aim of the current study is to investigate this cross-lingual syntactic priming in patients with bilingual aphasia. Our research aim was threefold: (1) Do patients with bilingual aphasia show priming effects within and across languages? (2) Do these priming effects differ from the priming effects observed in control participants? and (3) Does the pattern of priming effects interact with the type of aphasia?

Methods and procedures. We tested two groups of patients: one group had similar impairments in both languages (parallel aphasia); in the other group, the impairments were larger in one of the languages (differential aphasia). We investigated syntactic priming within and across languages by means of a dialogue experiment.

Outcomes and results. We found significant cross-lingual priming effects in both patient groups as well as in a control group. In addition, the effect size of both patient groups was similar to that of the control group.

Conclusion. These findings support models that incorporate shared syntactic representations across languages, and are in favour of a non-localised account of differential aphasia in bilingual aphasia.

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