Abstract

The selective vulnerability of morphology in agrammatic aphasia is often interpreted as evidence that closedclass items reside in a particular part of the brain (i.e., Broca's area); thus, damage to a part of the language processor maps onto behavior in a transparent fashion. We propose that the selective vulnerability of grammatical morphemes in receptive processing may be the result of decrements in overall processing capacity, and not the result of a selective lesion. We demonstrate agrammatic profiles in healthy adults who have their processing capacity diminished by engaging in a secondary task during testing. Our results suggest that this selective profile does not necessarily indicate the existence of a distinct subsystem specialized for the implicated aspects of syntax, but rather may be due to the vulnerability of these forms in the face of global resource diminution, at least in grammaticality judgment.

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