eISSN: 2084-9885
ISSN: 1896-6764
Neuropsychiatria i Neuropsychologia/Neuropsychiatry and Neuropsychology
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vol. 6

Original article
Figurative language impairment in aphasic patients

Anna B. Cieślicka
Karolina Rataj
Dorota Jaworska

Neuropsychiatria i Neuropsychologia 2011; 6, 1: 1–10
Online publish date: 2011/07/14
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Purpose: The present study is a pilot test designed to verify the Figurative Language Battery that we have developed to explore figurative language skills of individuals with aphasia.

Material and methods: Eight left brain damaged patients and ten controls were tested using the battery. The battery consists of four parts, each of which focuses on a different figurative trope (idioms, metaphors, proverbs, and similes), and employs either a Multiple Choice task (choosing the correct paraphrase from among literally related and unrelated distractors) or an Oral Completion task (providing the last, missing word of the figurative phrase). Data were collected in individual sessions during which participants were asked to complete the figurative language battery.

Results: Overall, patients showed a strong literal bias in comprehending figurative expressions, i.e., they tended to interpret idioms and metaphors in a literal, rather than figurative, manner, consistent with findings reported in the literature. In addition, the obtained results confirm that the type of figurative trope significantly affects performance of individuals with aphasia. Patients performed significantly better on overlearned sequences, such as proverbs or similes, than on idioms and metaphors. Conventional metaphors were easier to understand than unconventional (novel) ones, and opaque, unambiguous idioms were easier than transparent, ambiguous ones.

Conclusions: The type of figurative trope, and possibly also the type of task, affect figurative performance of individuals with aphasia. The study carries important implications for designing diagnostic tools aiming to uncover figurative language impairment in aphasia.

aphasia, language impairment, figurative

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