In Europe, there is an increasing number of people with neurological problems, such as probable Alzheimer’s disease (pAD) or aphasia, which often result in severe language and memory impairments. It has been argued that memory deficits contribute to the language problems brain-damaged populations face and, further, can predict these populations’ patterns of linguistic impairment. Interestingly, working (and perhaps semantic) memory deficits appear to differentially affect functional categories, resulting in a selective breakdown of grammar. However, there is no consensus as to the source of memory related processing difficulties for certain categories. The proposed study will investigate the relation between grammar and memory focusing on agrammatic aphasia (AA) and pAD in three morphologically rich European languages: German, Italian, and Greek. It will explore the ability of AA and pAD speakers to process functional categories which have different properties across and within these languages by means of on-line and off-line constrained tasks. The categories that will be tested are: Mood, Tense, Negation, subject-verb Agreement, gender Agreement and structural Case. Independent assessment of participants’ memory function will be made as well. The main goal of the project is to shed light on the precise relation between grammar and memory, detecting the factors that contribute to the processing load of a given category. The project will also have clinical implications: based on its 'basic research results', new treatment programmes for German-, Italian-, and Greek-speaking AA and pAD individuals will be developed. This project is highly interdisciplinary as it combines methods of theoretical linguistics, psycho-/neurolinguistics, cognitive and clinical (neuro)psychology, and speech and language therapy. It will contribute to the excellence of Europe in cognition and related disorders, as well as to a better treatment of populations suffering from AA or pAD.'
Project partnersUniversitaet Potsdam