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Conceptualisation difficulties in stroke-induced and primary progressive aphasia

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posted on 28.03.2022, 11:44 by Inga Hameister
In order to speak we have to transform our thinking into a form that can be verbally expressed– so called conceptualisation. Conceptualisation processes, including the selection and ordering of important information, perspective taking and topic maintenance, can be particularly difficult for individuals with acquired language impairments. This thesis aimed to identify symptoms of conceptualisation deficits in people with neurological language impairments (stroke aphasia, Primary Progressive Aphasia [PPA]) using a speech production task that is commonly used in clinical assessment (i.e., picture description) This research applied a modification of an established connected speech analysis -concept analysis - to investigate the number, quality and order of the information produced in picture description. The results showed that some individuals with stroke-aphasia (Chapter 2) and PPA (Chapter 3) omitted essential information and/or showed difficulties producing it in an appropriate temporal order. These impairments were hypothesised to be associated with either linguistic or cognitive impairments (e.g., working memory, attention). Chapter 4 investigated how far discourse macrostructure was influenced by impaired word availability. The ‘Taboo paradigm’ was used to induce lexical access difficulties in unimpaired speakers and their performance compared to speakers with aphasia. The results suggested that impaired word availability can account for a reduced amount of essential information. However, omissions of the most central concepts and temporal order violations, observed in some speakers with aphasia, cannot be explained by linguistic impairment alone. Chapter 5 reports a pilot investigation of the eye movements made during complex picture description. This pioneering study revealed clearly different gaze patterns (e.g., timing of fixations to critical areas) between a man with aphasia and unimpaired controls. This motivates the use of eye tracking for further research on conceptualisation difficulties. In summary, the results of this thesis provide evidence for the possible symptoms of conceptualisation difficulties in individuals with stroke-induced and primary progressive aphasia and have clinical application for enhancing the effectiveness of aphasia diagnosis and treatment.


Table of Contents

Chapter 1. General introduction -- Chapter 2. The cat in the tree : using picture descriptions to inform our understanding of conceptualisation in aphasia -- Chapter 3. "I wonder why it's leaking" : what cookie theft pivture descriptions tell us about conceptualisation processes in primary progressive aphasia -- Chapter 4. The influence of impaired word availability on the macrostructural organisation of speakers with and without language impairments -- Chapter 5. Seeing beyond language : what eye movements can tell us about language conceptualisation and production -- Chapter 6. General discussion -- Appendices.


Includes bibliographical references Thesis by publication. "The work presented in this thesis was carried out as part of the Erasmus Mundus joint International Doctorate for Experimental Approaches to Language and Brain (IDEALAB), Macquarie University (Australia), Newcastle University (United Kingdom), Rijksuniversiteit Groningen (the Netherlands), Università degli studi di Trento (Italy), Universität Potsdam (Germany)" -- page v of thesis.

Awarding Institution

Macquarie University

Degree Type

Thesis PhD


PhD, Macquarie University, Faculty of Human Sciences, Department of Cognitive Science

Department, Centre or School

Department of Cognitive Science

Year of Award


Principal Supervisor

Lyndsey Nickels

Additional Supervisor 1

Roelien Bastiaanse


Copyright Inga Hameister 2018. Copyright disclaimer: http://mq.edu.au/library/copyright




1 online resource (xii, 241 pages) illustrations

Former Identifiers

mq:70929 http://hdl.handle.net/1959.14/1269124