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May 2007 - Semantic errors in deep dyslexia: does orthographic depth matter? Semantic errors of oral reading by aphasic patients are said to be comparatively rare in languages with a shallow orthography. The present report concerns three bilingual brain-damaged patients who prior to their stroke were fluent in both English, an orthographically deep language, and Welsh, an orthographically shallow language. On a picture-naming task, each patient made a similar proportion of semantic errors in the two languages. Similarly, in oral reading of the corresponding words, no patient produced proportionally more semantic paralexias in English than in Welsh. The findings are discussed in relation to the summation hypothesis as invoked by Miceli, Capasso, and Caramazza (1994) to explain apparent differences in frequency of semantic errors of reading in languages differing in orthographic depth. CN.
Feb 2007 - Lexical acquisition in progressive aphasia and frontotemporal dementia. We investigated the characteristics of language difficulty in frontotemporal dementia (FTD) by exposing these patients to a new verb in a naturalistic manner and then assessing acquisition of the grammatical, semantic, and thematic matrix information associated with the new word. We found that FTD patients have difficulty relative to healthy seniors in their acquisition of the new verb, but that progressive nonfluent aphasia (PNFA), semantic dementia (SD), and social/dysexecutive variant (SOC/EXEC) subgroups of FTD demonstrate relatively distinct impairment profiles. Specifically, PNFA patients showed relative difficulty assigning the new verb to its correct grammatical form class, reflecting compromised processing of the associated grammatical information. SD patients were impaired at associating the new word with its pictorial representation, suggesting impaired processing of the new verb's semantic attributes. SOC/EXEC patients showed their greatest difficulty judging violations of the new word's associated thematic roles, implying that limited executive resources underlie in part the difficulty in integrating grammatical and semantic information into a coherent thematic matrix. Similar impairment profiles were seen during a follow-up session one week after the initial evaluation. These deficits in lexical acquisition reflect the breakdown of a language-processing system that consists of highly interactive but partially dissociable grammatical, semantic, and resource-based components, leading to relatively distinct language-processing deficits in each subgroup of patients with FTD. CN.
2007- Orthographic representations in spoken word priming: no early automatic activation. The current study investigated the modulation by orthographic knowledge of the final overlap phonological priming effect, contrasting spoken prime-target pairs with congruent spellings (e.g., 'carreau-bourreau', /karo/-/buro/) to pairs with incongruent spellings (e.g., 'zéro-bourreau', /zero/-/buro/). Using materials and designs aimed at reducing the impact of response biases or strategies, no orthographic congruency effect was found in shadowing, a speech recognition task that can be performed prelexically. In lexical decision, an orthographic effect occurred only when the processing environment reduced the prominence of phonological overlap and thus induced participants to rely on word spelling. Overall, the data do not support the assumption of early, automatic activation of orthographic representations during spoken word recognition. LS.
December 2007 - Familiarization effects for bilingual letter detection involving translation or exact text repetition. In two experiments, English-Spanish bilinguals read passages, performing letter detection on some passages by circling target letters as they read. Detection passages were sometimes familiarized (primed) by prior reading of the same passage or a translation of it. Participants detected letters in English passages in Experiment 1 and in Spanish passages in Experiment 2. For both experiments, a missing letter effect occurred (depressed detection accuracy on frequent function words relative to less frequent content words). Familiarization promoted overall improvements in letter detection only for English passages, suggesting that reprocessing benefits depend on high language fluency. For Spanish passages, cognates engendered greater error rates than noncognates; the visual similarity of Spanish and English cognates apparently enabled faster identification of Spanish cognates in a way unaffected by familiarization of the whole text passage. Priming by familiarized text was significantly higher when the passages were in the same language than when they were in different languages, suggesting that the reprocessing benefits are at the word level instead of the semantic level. These results are consistent with the GO model of reading (Greenberg, Healy, Koriat, & Kreiner, 2004) but require an expanded consideration of attention redistribution processes in that model. CJEP.
Dec 2007 - Developing rich and quickly accessed knowledge of an artificial grammar. In contrast to prior research, our results demonstrate that it is possible to acquire rich, highly accurate, and quickly accessed knowledge of an artificial grammar. Across two experiments, we trained participants by using a string-edit task and highlighting relatively low-level (letters), medium-level (chunks), or high-level (structural; i.e., grammar diagram) information to increase the efficiency of grammar acquisition. In both experiments, participants who had structural information available during training generated more highly accurate strings during a cued generation test than did those in other conditions, with equivalent speed. Experiment 2 revealed that structural information enhanced acquisition only when relevant features were highlighted during the task using animation. We suggest that two critical components for producing enhanced performance from provided model-based knowledge involve (1) using the model to acquire experience-based knowledge, rather than using a representation of the model to generate responses, and (2) receiving that knowledge precisely when it is needed during training. MC.