There is little evidence that, for people with aphasia, successful outcomes following lexical retrieval treatment generalise beyond single word retrieval to sentence production or daily communication. This study aimed to develop greater understanding of the mechanisms of generalisation. We employed a cueing task to simulate the effects of lexical retrieval treatment. A single noun or verb was provided and the effect on production of a corresponding verb phrase examined. Sixteen individuals with primary progressive aphasia (PPA) were asked to produce verb phrases to describe action pictures accompanied by i) a verb cue where a spoken and written verb was also presented with the picture; ii) a noun cue where a spoken and written noun was presented with the picture; iii) a no cue condition where only the picture was presented. Across the case series, both verb and noun cueing improved verb phrase production relative to no cue, with verb cueing being most effective. At the level of the single case, thirteen individuals showed significantly increased production of verb phrases with verb cueing, and seven individuals with noun cueing. In addition, seven individuals showed significantly greater benefit from verb cueing compared to noun cueing, and none showed the reverse. This suggests that improvements in verb phrase production may also be achievable following treatment-induced improvements in lexical retrieval. Greater benefit from verb cues than noun cues raises important theoretical issues regarding sentence construction and clinical issues around the most effective treatment techniques for people with aphasia.
- primary progressive aphasia
- lexical retrieval