Grammatical and lexical pronoun dissociation in French speakers with agrammatic aphasia: a usage-based account and REF-based hypothesis

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Pronouns have been shown to be impaired in agrammatic production but not all types of pronouns are equally affected. For instance, clitic pronouns are more impaired than non-clitic ones. A usage-based theory of grammatical status suggests a reclassification of pronouns into grammatical and lexical and predicts that grammatical pronouns are more impaired in agrammatic production. Besides, the reorganization of elementary functions (REF) model, which describes the underlying neurocognitive processes of post-injury recovery, explores the variability across individuals with agrammatism.

The current study hypothesizes that those pronouns that by the usage-based theory of grammatical status are grammatical are more affected than the lexical ones in agrammatic speech. In addition to this, the REF-model predicts that individuals with agrammatism will either build up unique strategies to cope with the deficit or they will rely more on fixed expressions.

& Procedures: Spontaneous speech data collected from six French speaking individuals with agrammatism and nine non-injured controls in three different contexts (autobiography, narrative speech and descriptive speech) was used to test the hypothesis. We categorized 137 French pronouns into lexical and grammatical and calculated a grammatical pronoun index (GPI) for the groups and the individual speakers with agrammatism. We also conducted a qualitative analysis to look for adaptive strategies.

Four individuals with agrammatism out of six produced significantly fewer grammatical pronouns than the non-injured group in the autobiography task. The two individuals with agrammatism who did not significantly differ from the control group were more fluent than the other four. The exclusion of pronouns containing fixed expressions did not result in drastic changes. The pronoun-verb analysis showed that there is no consistent connection between subject pronoun production and verb finiteness.

Grammatical pronoun production is indeed more severely impaired in agrammatic production. Moreover, the impairment pattern varies across individuals with agrammatism. Variability is observed both across participants with agrammatism and across tasks, which may indicate the use of unique adaptive strategies, as predicted by the REF-model.
TidsskriftJournal of Neurolinguistics
Sider (fra-til)1-16
StatusUdgivet - 2017

ID: 173154682