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Semantic fluency in aphasia: clustering and switching in the course of one minute

Bose, A., Wood, R. and Kiran, S. (2017) Semantic fluency in aphasia: clustering and switching in the course of one minute. International Journal of Language & Communication Disorders, 52 (3). pp. 334-345. ISSN 1368-2822

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To link to this item DOI: 10.1111/1460-6984.12276


Background Verbal fluency tasks are included in a broad range of aphasia assessments. It is well documented that people with aphasia (PWA) produce fewer items in these tasks. Successful performance on verbal fluency relies on the integrity of both linguistic and executive control abilities. It remains unclear if limited output in aphasia is solely due to their lexical retrieval difficulties or has a basis in their executive control abilities. Analysis techniques, such as temporal characteristics of word retrieved, clustering and switching, are better positioned to inform the debate surrounding the lexical and/or executive control contribution for success in verbal fluency. Aims To investigate the differences in quantitative (i.e., number of correct words) and qualitative (i.e., switching, clustering and word-retrieval times) performances on animal fluency task as a function of time between PWA and healthy control speakers (CS). Methods & Procedures Animal fluency data for 60 s were collected from 34 PWA and 34 CS, and responses were time stamped. The 60-s period was divided into four equal intervals of 15 s each (i.e., 15, 30, 45 and 60 s). The number of correct words, cluster size, number of switches, within-cluster pause and between-cluster pause were evaluated as a function of four 15-s time intervals between PWA and CS. Outcomes & Results Compared with CS, PWA produced fewer words, had smaller cluster sizes and switched a fewer number of times. A decrease in the number of switches correlated with an increase in between-cluster pause durations. PWA showed longer within- and between-cluster pauses than CS. The two groups showed specific differences in the temporal pattern of the responses: as time evolved both PWA and CS showed decreased productivity for the number of correct words, but PWA reached the asymptote earlier in the time course than CS, neither group showed a change in cluster size, and the number of switches decreased as a function of time only for CS. Conclusions & Implications The findings suggest that for PWA the search and retrieval process is less productive and more effortful. This is indicated by smaller cluster size, fewer switches associated with increased between-cluster pause durations, as well as overall slowed retrieval times for the words. This shows that the difficulties with verbal fluency performance in aphasia have a strong basis in their lexical retrieval processes, as well as some difficulties in the executive component of the task.

Item Type:Article
Divisions:Interdisciplinary Research Centres (IDRCs) > Centre for Literacy and Multilingualism (CeLM)
Life Sciences > School of Psychology and Clinical Language Sciences > Department of Clinical Language Sciences
ID Code:66217


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