Atypical associations to abstract words in Broca's aphasia

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19 Citations (SciVal)


Left frontal brain lesions are known to give rise to aphasia and impaired word associations. These associations have previously been difficult to analyze. We used a semantic space method to investigate associations to cue words. The degree of abstractness of the generated words and semantic similarity to the cue words were measured.
Three subjects diagnosed with Broca’s aphasia and twelve control subjects associated freely to cue words. Results were evaluated with latent semantic analysis (LSA) applied to the Swedish Parole corpus.
The aphasic subjects could be clearly distinguished from controls by a lower degree of abstractness in the words they generated. The aphasic group’s associations showed a negative correlation between semantic similarity to cue word and abstractness of cue word.
By developing novel semantic measures, we showed that Broca’s aphasic subjects’ word production was characterized by a low degree of abstractness and low degree of coherence in associations to abstract cue words. The results support models where meanings of concrete words are represented in neural networks involving perceptual and motor areas, whereas the meaning of abstract words is more dependent on connections to other word forms in the left frontal region. Semantic spaces can be used in future developments of evaluative tools for both diagnosis and research purposes.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1068-1072
Issue number8
Publication statusPublished - 2012

Bibliographical note

The information about affiliations in this record was updated in December 2015.
The record was previously connected to the following departments: Cognitive Science (015001004), Logopedics, Phoniatrics and Audiology (013020000), Linguistics and Phonetics (015010003)

Subject classification (UKÄ)

  • Neurology


  • aphasia
  • latent semantic analysis
  • LSA
  • concreteness
  • abstractness


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