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Lexical access in multilinguals with dementia (completed)

How is lexical access (word retrieval) affected in multilinguals with dementia? Is lexical access similarly compromised across different speech contexts?

This postdoctoral project is part of MultiLing's flagship project MultiLing Dementia.


Pernille Hansen.

Photo: Nadia Frantsen, UiO.

About the project

Appropriate lexical access is a question of finding a word (or multi-word unit) in the mental lexicon that matches the intended concept in a specific context. Neurological diseases may lead to problems with word retrieval, and, by consequence, communicative challenges.

This project investigates lexical access among L2 speakers of Norwegian diagnosed with dementia. It takes a usage-based approach (Bybee 2010) and asks if these individuals' word retrieval is influenced by word class, word length, frequency of use, imageability, age of acquisition, phonological and/or semantic similarities between words (within and across a speaker’s languages), language dominance and proficiency. Methodological triangulation will be used to address whether lexical access is similarly compromised across different speech contexts. Data will be gathered by means of:

  • a short picture-based naming task, with items from PALPA (Kay et al. 1991) and VOST (Bastiaanse et al. 2006), given in all languages used regularly by the participants
  • a Norwegian 30-word association test based on Bøyum (2016) (read more and see preliminary results in this poster)
  • a cartoon from the Bilingual Aphasia Test (Paradis & Libben 1987) that participants describe once for each language
  • autobiographical interviews
  • observations of natural conversations (see sister project)

Different languages are assessed in separate sessions, typically with 1-3 weeks in between. Lexical choices will be analysed both quantitatively and qualitatively. Psycholinguistic properties will be extracted from databases such as the MRC Psycholinguistic Database (Coltheart 1981) and Norwegian words (Lind et al. 2015); the latter will be expanded and updated in connection with the project.




Bybee (2010). Language, usage and cognition. Cambridge University Press.

Bøyum (2016). A New Word Association Test for Norwegian: Implications for theories on the mental lexicon, and on language and ageing. MA thesis, University of Oslo.

Bastiaanse, Lind, Moen & Simonsen (2006). Verb- og setningstesten (VOST). Oslo: Novus forlag.

Coltheart (1981). The MRC Psycholinguistic Database. Quarterly Journal of Experimental Psychology, 33A, 497-505.  

Kay, Lesser & Coltheart (1996). PALPA: The proof of the pudding is in the eating. Aphasiology10(2), 202-215.

Lind, Simonsen, Hansen, Holm & Mevik (2015) Norwegian Words: A lexical database for clinicians and researchersClinical Linguistics & Phonetics 29(4), p. 276-290.

Paradis & Libben (1987). The assessment of bilingual aphasia. Hillsdale, NJ: Erlbaum.

Tags: Multilingual competence
Published Nov. 23, 2017 4:21 PM - Last modified Aug. 20, 2020 1:16 PM


Pernille Hansen