Authors: Silkes JP, Dierkes KE, Kendall DL
Title: Masked repetition priming effects on naming in aphasia: A Phase I treatment study
Source: Aphasiology 2012 27(4): 381-397
Year: 2012
Research Design: Single Case Design

Background: It has been suggested that lexical access deficits in aphasia may be the result of impaired automatic activation of the networks that support language processing, a system that operates implicitly, outside conscious awareness. This raises the question of whether there might be a way to address rebuilding these implicit networks directly, rather than through the explicit treatment protocols that are typical of aphasia therapy. Masked priming is one method by which the language system can be automatically activated, while limiting or preventing the influence of conscious, explicit processing. Aims: This Phase I study was undertaken to investigate the potential effectiveness of masked repetition priming as a treatment for anomia. Methods & Procedures: This study used a single-participant, ABA, multiple-baseline repeated-probe design. A total of 22 training sessions were completed across 4 weeks. Training involved repeated presentation of masked repetition primes paired with target pictures prior to attempts at naming those pictures. Untrained items were presented an equal number of times, but without prime words. Repeated naming probes administered before, during, and after treatment were used to measure effects of training (naming trained stimuli) and generalisation (naming within and across semantic categories). Pre- and post-training assessment with broader tests of language function and conversation were also completed. Outcomes & Results: Results revealed a small effect of training on naming of trained items in one category, as well as a pattern of improvement in the other category that did not quite meet the criterion for a small effect. There was also a medium cross- category generalisation effect, although no generalisation effect was seen to untrained items within semantic categories. Improvements were seen on some measures of general language function. Conclusions: Masked priming can elicit changes in naming ability over time, and may have potential as a tool for improving word retrieval in individuals with anomia. Results warrant further investigation.

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