Abstract

Using a cross-modal lexical priming technique we provide an on-line examination of the ability of aphasic patients to construct syntactically licensed dependencies in real time. We show a distinct difference between Wernicke's and Broca's aphasic patients with respect to this form of syntactic processing: the Wernicke's patients link the elements of dependency relations in the same manner as do neurologically intact individuals; the Broca's patients show no evidence of such linkage. These findings indicate that the cerebral tissue implicated in Wernicke's aphasia is not crucial for recovering syntactically licensed structural dependencies, while that implicated in Broca's aphasia is. Moreover, additional considerations suggest that the latter region is not the locus of syntactic representations per se, but rather provides the resources that sustain the normal operating characteristics of the lexical processing system—characteristics that are, in turn, necessary for building syntactic representations in real time.

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