Authors: Knoph MIN, Lind M, Simonsen HG
Title: Semantic feature analysis targeting verbs in a quadrilingual speaker with aphasia
Source: Aphasiology 2015 29(12): 1473-1496
Year: 2015
Research Design: Single Case Design

Background: Semantic feature analysis (SFA) is a treatment approach aimed at enhancing lexical retrieval by improving access to the semantic network in speakers with aphasia. Although there are promising results on trained items, previous studies exploring the impact of SFA on verb production in monolingual speakers have shown mixed results for generalisation to untrained items and discourse. There are few published studies investigating SFA and action naming in multilingual speakers. Aims: The study explores the impact of SFA on trained and untrained verbs, semantics and syntax, and narrative production in the trained and untrained languages of a multilingual speaker (Japanese–English–German–Norwegian) with moderate non-fluent aphasia. Treatment was conducted in a late-acquired language (Norwegian). Methods & Procedures: SFA was provided during an intensive schedule of about 22 hr of therapy, with approximately 10 hr per week over two and a half weeks. The treatment focused on the production of verbs in sentence contexts. Outcomes & Results: Outcome measures include the Bilingual Aphasia Test, an action-naming test, and production of semi-spontaneous narratives. Outcomes in the treated language: Overall, the participant responded positively to the SFA treatment. The trained verbs improved significantly, but no transfer was observed to untrained verbs. There were no changes in the formal testing of semantics or syntax, but improvements were noted in narrative production. Cross-linguistic outcomes: Transfer to verbs in untreated German was evident. There were significant increases in the semantics and syntax in both English and German. The participant showed an improvement in discourse in English and German, although not in Japanese. Conclusions: SFA treatment in a late-acquired language can lead to gains in the treated language and transfer to both stronger and weaker languages, with different patterns for the various languages. This indicates that SFA may be a promising method for treating multilingual speakers with aphasia. The authors further advocate the use of narratives as an assessment tool. In addition to enhancing the ecological validity of the findings, the narratives provided information not obtainable from the other assessment tools for within- and cross-linguistic therapy gains for the participant.

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