Masked Priming Effects in Aphasia: Evidence of Altered Automatic Spreading Activation PurposePrevious research has suggested that impairments of automatic spreading activation may underlie some aphasic language deficits. The current study further investigated the status of automatic spreading activation in individuals with aphasia as compared with typical adults.MethodParticipants were 21 individuals with aphasia (12 fluent, 9 nonfluent) and 31 typical adults. Reaction ... Article
Article  |   December 01, 2012
Masked Priming Effects in Aphasia: Evidence of Altered Automatic Spreading Activation
 
Author Affiliations & Notes
  • Margaret A. Rogers
    University of Washington, Seattle
  • Correspondence to JoAnn Silkes: jsilkes@uw.edu
  • Margaret A. Rogers is now Chief Staff Officer for Science and Research at the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association, Rockville, MD.
    Margaret A. Rogers is now Chief Staff Officer for Science and Research at the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association, Rockville, MD.×
  • Editor: Janna Oetting
    Editor: Janna Oetting×
  • Associate Editor: Swathi Kiran
    Associate Editor: Swathi Kiran×
Article Information
Language Disorders / Aphasia / Language
Article   |   December 01, 2012
Masked Priming Effects in Aphasia: Evidence of Altered Automatic Spreading Activation
Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research, December 2012, Vol. 55, 1613-1625. doi:10.1044/1092-4388(2012/10-0260)
History: Received September 16, 2010 , Revised February 28, 2011 , Accepted March 7, 2012
 
Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research, December 2012, Vol. 55, 1613-1625. doi:10.1044/1092-4388(2012/10-0260)
History: Received September 16, 2010; Revised February 28, 2011; Accepted March 7, 2012
Web of Science® Times Cited: 4

PurposePrevious research has suggested that impairments of automatic spreading activation may underlie some aphasic language deficits. The current study further investigated the status of automatic spreading activation in individuals with aphasia as compared with typical adults.

MethodParticipants were 21 individuals with aphasia (12 fluent, 9 nonfluent) and 31 typical adults. Reaction time data were collected on a lexical decision task with masked repetition primes, assessed at 11 different interstimulus intervals (ISIs). Masked primes were used to assess automatic spreading activation without the confound of conscious processing. The various ISIs were used to assess the time to onset and duration of priming effects.

ResultsThe control group showed maximal priming in the 200-ms ISI condition, with significant priming at a range of ISIs surrounding that peak. Participants with both fluent and nonfluent aphasia showed maximal priming effects in the 250-ms ISI condition and primed across a smaller range of ISIs than did the control group.

ConclusionsResults suggest that individuals with aphasia have slowed automatic spreading activation and impaired maintenance of activation over time, regardless of fluency classification. These findings have implications for understanding aphasic language impairment and for development of aphasia treatments designed to directly address automatic language processes.

Acknowledgments
This work was supported by National Institutes of Health (NIH) Grants 5T32DC000033-14 and 1F31DC008736-02 and by NIH–University of Washington (UW) Research Core Grant P30 DC04661. This work was completed in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the first author’s doctoral degree. A copy of the full dissertation, of which this work was a part, is available through ProQuest, UMI #3393943. Portions of these data were presented in posters at the May 2009 Clinical Aphasiology Conference and the February 2011 Annual Meeting of the International Neuropsychological Society. A methodological analysis of the visibility task described here, based on the data collected for this project, has been previously published (see Silkes & Rogers, 2010).
We thank Kristie Spencer, Susan Joslyn, Cathy Off, Holly Kavalier, Rebecca Hunting-Pompon, Lina Huang, Laine Anderson, Coralee Choules, and the UW Aphasia Research Lab for assistance with data collection and processing and intellectual support. Most of all, we thank the research participants, especially those with aphasia, who graciously provided the data for this work.
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