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The Effect of Word Context on the Reading Ability of Individuals with Aphasia and Acquired Alexia

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  • Some individuals with acquired reading impairments (alexia) can read words in sentence contexts easier than in list format. It has been proposed that this may be due to relatively intact sentence production processes (Mitchum et al., 2005). In this project, we investigated this hypothesis in five individuals with fluent aphasia and acquired alexia. Participants read aloud words varying in part of speech (nouns, verbs, adjectives, functors) in sentence and list contexts; sentence production skills were quantified using the Quantitative Production Analysis (QPA; Saffran et al., 1989) on discourse samples. A 2 (context condition) x 4 (word type) ANOVA was used to determine a) if sentence contexts facilitate word reading, and b) which word types are facilitated. A regression analysis examined the relationship between QPA and reading accuracy in both contexts. Context (list vs. sentence) had a significant effect on word reading accuracy in only one of the five individuals in this study. Participants with aphasia were less accurate at reading verbs than functors in both list and sentence contexts. Results of the regression analysis revealed that the mean length of utterance in the discourse samples significantly predicted the accuracy of word reading in sentences. Only one participant demonstrated a context effect in reading words. This participant also had a much slower reading rate than the others in the group, which may have contributed to this effect. Further research studies are needed to better characterize the nature of context effects in reading.

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    Attribution-NonCommercial 3.0 International