Cross-language transfer for cognates in aphasia therapy with multilingual patients

a case study

Solene Hameau, Barbara Köpke

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


    The issue of cross-language transfer (CLT) in aphasia therapy with bilingual patients is controversial and the conditions determining if there is transfer or not are not yet clear. A higher number of representations and processes shared by the two languages seem to increase transfer. We challenged this hypothesis through a treatment study focusing on cognates in a trilingual patient with chronic non fluent aphasia. Our aim was to investigate cross-language transfer of the benefits of therapy, building on the hypothesis of a post-lexical origin of the cognate effect. The patient received intensive therapy involving both cognates and non cognates in his L3 during 3 weeks with naming skills being assessed for treated and untreated words before and after. Results show benefits on the treated L3 words and also, albeit to a lesser degree, on the nontreated words in L1 and L3. However, no cognate effect was observed. Given that the patient’s impairment can be located at the post-lexical level, the results are consistent with bilingual speech production models that postulate interactivity between levels of representation within and across languages,with cognate effects emerging at the post-lexical level. Within a clinical perspective, the study shows the efficiency of naming treatment in chronic aphasia, and that there may be cross-language transfer of therapy benefits in bilingual aphasia.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)13-19
    Number of pages7
    JournalAphasie und verwandte Gebiete
    Issue number3
    Publication statusPublished - 2015

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