Language production in Parkinson's disease : an investigation into the characteristics and underlying cognitive and linguistic mechanisms

Student thesis: Doctoral Thesis

Abstract

Research into language alteration in Parkinson's Disease (PD) remains relatively limited. Findings to date indicate that both a specific verb processing deficit and altered sentence construction can present as part of the symptom profile. However, questions regarding the underlying nature of the verb processing deficit observed remain and, as far as can be established, no studies have explicitly explored whether the altered verb processing evidenced may be underpinning the observed alteration in measures of sentence construction. This thesis reports on the findings from four component studies, each addressing an identified gap within the current literature relating to verb and sentence processing. Of interest within the first two experimental research questions was the influence of the verbs semantic and grammatical characteristics on retrieval within both a single word and sentence context, and on various measures of sentence construction. In the main, the pattern of performance did not vary between individuals with PD and controls. Average pause length was found to be longer in sentences produced by individuals with PD, however, was not influenced by the verb's characteristics. The third experimental question was concerned with investigating sentence production within tasks which varied in their nature and linguistic demands. Again, performance was largely comparable between groups, with the exception of average pause length. Whilst pauses were found to be longer in PD, this was not influenced by the demands of the task. Finally, exploratory correlational analyses were conducted to explore the relationship between the linguistic measures taken, and measures of various cognitive abilities. Patterns of association varied between the groups, indicating a complex relationship between language and cognitive measures. The majority of findings went against the predictions made. Collectively, findings indicate that, when verb processing is unimpaired in PD and cognitive functioning of a comparative level to controls, sentence construction is largely unimpaired.
Date of Award2 Sep 2021
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • University Of Strathclyde
SupervisorAnja Lowit (Supervisor) & Louise Brown Nicholls (Supervisor)

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