Cue Recognition and Integration - Eye Tracking Evidence of Processing Differences in Sentence Comprehension in Aphasia.
Schumacher R., Cazzoli D., Eggenberger N., Preisig B., Nef T., Nyffeler T., Gutbrod K., Annoni J-M., Müri RM.
PURPOSE: We aimed at further elucidating whether aphasic patients' difficulties in understanding non-canonical sentence structures, such as Passive or Object-Verb-Subject sentences, can be attributed to impaired morphosyntactic cue recognition, and to problems in integrating competing interpretations. METHODS: A sentence-picture matching task with canonical and non-canonical spoken sentences was performed using concurrent eye tracking. Accuracy, reaction time, and eye tracking data (fixations) of 50 healthy subjects and 12 aphasic patients were analysed. RESULTS: Patients showed increased error rates and reaction times, as well as delayed fixation preferences for target pictures in non-canonical sentences. Patients' fixation patterns differed from healthy controls and revealed deficits in recognizing and immediately integrating morphosyntactic cues. CONCLUSION: Our study corroborates the notion that difficulties in understanding syntactically complex sentences are attributable to a processing deficit encompassing delayed and therefore impaired recognition and integration of cues, as well as increased competition between interpretations.