The Role of Syntactic Complexity in Treatment of Sentence Deficits in Agrammatic Aphasia: The Complexity Account of Treatment Efficacy (CATE)

Thompson, Cynthia K.; Shapiro, Lewis P.; Kiran, Swathi; Sobecks, Jana
June 2003
Journal of Speech, Language & Hearing Research;Jun2003, Vol. 46 Issue 3, p591
Academic Journal
This experiment examined the hypothesis that training production of syntactically complex sentences results in generalization to less complex sentences that have processes in common with treated structures. Using a single subject experimental design, 4 individuals with agrammatic aphasia were trained to comprehend and produce filler-gap sentences with wh-movement, including, from least to most complex, object-extracted who-questions, object clefts, and sentences with object-relative clausal embedding. Two participants received treatment first on the least complex structure (who-questions), and 2 received treatment first on the most complex form (object-relative constructions), while untrained sentences and narrative language samples were tested for generalization. When generalization did not occur across structures, each was successively entered into treatment. Results showed no generalization across sentence types when who-questions were trained; however, as predicted, object-relative training resulted in robust generalization to both object clefts and who-questions. These findings support those derived from previous work, indicating not only that generalization occurs across structures that are linguistically related, but also that generalization is enhanced when the direction of treatment is from more complex to less complex constructions. This latter finding supports the authors' newly coined "complexity account of treatment efficacy" (CATE).


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