Disfluency Timing in Speakers with Agrammatic Aphasia

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Agrammatic aphasia, a language condition that affects a person's speech and communication abilities due to injury to the left side of the brain, causes difficulties with sentence generation. Their speech is characterized by frequent pauses and fillers (umm, uh). It is unclear if these pauses indicate a struggle with sentence generation or if they allow extra time to plan better sentences. The study investigates how disfluencies in sentence formation relate to sentence production deficiencies. The hypothesis is that disfluencies stem from slower language planning speed, such that persons with more disfluencies will speak more ungrammatical sentences. The participants included 13 aphasic speakers who did not have agrammatism and 17 agrammatic aphasia speakers. Audio Recordings of language samples of persons with aphasia narrating the story of Cinderella were transcribed using the CLAN program (MacWhinney et al., 2011). The sound waves of the language samples were manually analyzed for the duration of filled and unfilled pauses within sentences using PRAAT software (Boersma & Weenik, 2004). The total pause length, words per utterance, and grammaticality are calculated, and quantitative data analysis is carried out using Excel. As the study is ongoing, preliminary results show no difference in pause length between agrammatic and non-agrammatic speakers with aphasia and longer pauses in ungrammatical compared to grammatical utterances in both groups. These findings may illuminate underlying abnormalities other than grammatical encoding in agrammatic aphasia.