Background/Aims: Lexical ambiguity, where a single word has more than one meaning is a persistent problem in natural language processing. Recent lexical decision tasks demonstrate a lack of a processing advantage for ambiguous words with related meanings compared to ambiguous words with unrelated meanings1. However, few studies have investigated the effect of related and unrelated meanings on language processing in individuals with aphasia. The aim of this study was to examine the recognition speeds of individuals with aphasia to homophones with unrelated meanings.
Methods: Eleven individuals with aphasia and ten controls participated. A novel homophone lexical decision task (HLDT) was developed and administered to all participants. The HLDT composed of ambiguous stimuli developed using high frequency, hetero-graphic homophones with unrelated meanings. During this task, the participants judged whether the stimulus they heard was a real word or not, as presented by Compumedics Neuroscan® system.
Results: There were no significant differences between participants with aphasia and controls in comparisons of response times (RT¿s) to all stimuli presented [t (9) =1.104, p >.05] and RT¿s specifically to homophone stimuli [t (9) =.871, p >.05].
Conclusion: These findings are congruent with existing literature and demonstrate that the impaired brain exhibits performance comparable to controls when processing homophones with unrelated meanings1. Building on these results, the researchers are currently using Event Related Potentials and clinical language assessments (including HLDT) in participants with aphasia, as a technique to further our understanding of natural language. This technique may result in improved rehabilitative management of aphasic individuals.
Awarded 2nd prize for best poster presentation.