Behavioural and neural structure of fluent speech production deficits in aphasia.

Academic Article


  • Deficits in fluent speech production following left hemisphere stroke are a central concern because of their impact on patients' lives and the insight they provide about the neural organization of language processing. Fluent speech production requires the rapid coordination of phonological, semantic, and syntactic processing, so this study examined how deficits in connected speech relate to these language sub-systems. Behavioural data (N = 69 participants with aphasia following left hemisphere stroke) consisted of a diverse and comprehensive set of narrative speech production measures and measures of overall severity, semantic deficits, and phonological deficits. These measures were entered into a principal component analysis with bifactor rotation-a latent structure model where each item loads on a general factor that reflects what is common among the items, and orthogonal factors that explain variance not accounted for by the general factor. Lesion data were available for 58 of the participants, and each factor score was analysed with multivariate lesion-symptom mapping. Effects of connectivity disruption were evaluated using robust regression with tract disconnection or graph theoretic measures of connectivity as predictors. The principal component analysis produced a four-factor solution that accounted for 70.6% of the variance in the data, with a general factor corresponding to the overall severity and length and complexity of speech output (complexity factor), a lexical syntax factor, and independent factors for Semantics and Phonology. Deficits in the complexity of speech output were associated with a large temporo-parietal region, similar to overall aphasia severity. The lexical syntax factor was associated with damage in a relatively small set of fronto-parietal regions which may reflect the recruitment of control systems to support retrieval and correct usage of lexical items that primarily serve a syntactic rather than semantic function. Tract-based measures of connectivity disruption were not statistically associated with the deficit scores after controlling for overall lesion volume. Language network efficiency and average clustering coefficient within the language network were significantly associated with deficit scores after controlling for overall lesion volume. These results highlight overall severity as the critical contributor to fluent speech in post-stroke aphasia, with a dissociable factor corresponding to lexical syntax.
  • Authors

    Published In


  • aphasia, connectivity, fluency, lesion–symptom mapping, syntax
  • Digital Object Identifier (doi)

    Author List

  • Zevgolatakou E; Thye M; Mirman D
  • Start Page

  • fcac327
  • Volume

  • 5
  • Issue

  • 1