Patterns of comprehension performance in agrammatic Broca's aphasia

A test of the Trace Deletion Hypothesis

Alfonso Caramazza*, Rita Capasso, Erminio Capitani, Gabriele Miceli

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

33 Citations (Scopus)


We tested the core prediction of the Trace Deletion Hypothesis (TDH) of agrammatic Broca's aphasia, which contends that such patients' comprehension performance is normal for active reversible sentences but at chance level for passive reversible sentences. We analyzed the comprehension performance of 38 Italian Broca's aphasics with verified damage to Broca's area, who completed sentence-to-picture matching tasks using active and passive reversible sentences as stimuli. The results failed to confirm the predictions made by TDH: only a small minority (15%) performed at chance on passive sentences and better than chance on active sentences. Furthermore, the distribution of the 38 subjects' performance on passive sentences differed from that predicted by the TDH since many more subjects performed at better-than-chance levels than expected. We discuss the implication of these results for claims about the distribution of language processing mechanisms in the brain.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)43-53
Number of pages11
JournalBrain and Language
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2005
Externally publishedYes


  • Agrammatism
  • Broca's aphasia
  • Comprehension deficit
  • Left inferior prefrontal cortex

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