Effects of word frequency and modality on sentence comprehension impairments in people with aphasia

Gayle Dede

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

11 Scopus citations


Purpose: It is well known that people with aphasia have sentence comprehension impairments. The present study investigated whether lexical factors contribute to sentence comprehension impairments in both the auditory and written modalities using online measures of sentence processing. Method: People with aphasia and non brain-damaged controls participated in the experiment (n = 8 per group). Twentyone sentence pairs containing high- and low-frequency words were presented in self-paced listening and reading tasks. The sentences were syntactically simple and differed only in the critical words. The dependent variables were response times for critical segments of the sentence and accuracy on the comprehension questions. Results: The results showed that word frequency influences performance on measures of sentence comprehension in people with aphasia. The accuracy data on the comprehension questions suggested that people with aphasia have more difficulty understanding sentences containing low-frequency words in the written compared to auditory modality. Both group and single-case analyses of the response time data also indicated that people with aphasia experience more difficulty with reading than listening. Conclusion: Sentence comprehension in people with aphasia is influenced by word frequency and presentation modality.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)S104-S114
JournalAmerican journal of speech-language pathology
Issue number2
StatePublished - May 2012


  • Aphasia
  • Auditory comprehension
  • Reading comprehension
  • Sentence comprehension
  • Word frequency

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Otorhinolaryngology
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Linguistics and Language
  • Speech and Hearing


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