Verb naming treatment for individuals with agrammatic aphasia: Efficacy data

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Some individuals with aphasia present with agrammatism, which is characterized by short, syntactically ill-formed utterances and a paucity of verbs. These patients demonstrate marked difficulty with verb production both in confrontation naming and sentence production tasks. However, previous studies of syntax-based verb treatments have failed to show generalization to naming of untrained verbs. Therefore, the present study investigated the efficacy of a verb naming treatment that focused on purely semantic features of verbs. This research examined whether training semantic features of a verb class would facilitate within- and between-class generalization. Two male patients with agrammatic aphasia participated, with treatment aimed at training cut and contact verb classes. While only one participant (Participant B) improved in naming accuracy of trained cut verbs, neither participant displayed within-class generalization to untrained cut verbs. Only Participant B received training with contact verbs and demonstrated a trend of within-class generalization. Both participants improved on two standardized measures of aphasia performance, indicating that this treatment may have provided a generalized retrieval strategy for verb features. These results have implications for verb naming treatments, including stimuli-specific factors (i.e., number of verb features, verb frequency) and participant-specific factors (i.e., premorbid education, phonological vs. semantic deficit). Implications for future treatment research are also discussed.