Morphosyntactic production in Greek and Italian probable Alzheimer’s disease: Evidence from agreement, tense, and mood
Article by Valantis Fyndanis et al. in Aphasiology, 2016.
In probable Alzheimer’s disease (AD), different memory systems, executive functioning, visuospatial recognition, and language are impaired. Regarding the latter, only a few studies have investigated morphosyntactic production thus far.
This study, which is a follow-up on Fyndanis, V., Manouilidou, C., Koufou, E., Karampekios, S., and Tsapakis, E. M. (2013). Agrammatic patterns in Alzheimer's disease: Evidence from tense, agreement, and aspect. Aphasiology, 27, 178–200. doi:10.1080/02687038.2012.705814, investigates whether verb-related morphosyntactic production is (selectively) impaired in AD focusing on two highly inflected languages, Greek and Italian. The morphosyntactic phenomena explored are subject–verb Agreement, Tense/Time Reference, and Mood. Focusing on these phenomena allows us to investigate if recent hypotheses, originally developed in aphasia research, can also capture results related to AD. We tested the hypotheses discussed in Fyndanis, V., Manouilidou, C., Koufou, E., Karampekios, S., and Tsapakis, E. M. (2013). Agrammatic patterns in Alzheimer's disease: Evidence from tense, agreement, and aspect. Aphasiology, 27, 178–200. doi:10.1080/02687038.2012.705814, that is, the Interpretable Features’ Impairment Hypothesis (IFIH) (e.g., Fyndanis, V., Varlokosta, S., & Tsapkini, K. 2012. Agrammatic production: Interpretable features and selective impairment in verb inflection. Lingua, 122, 1134–1147. doi:10.1016/j.lingua.2012.05.004) and the PAst DIscourse LInking Hypothesis (PADILIH; Bastiaanse, R., Bamyaci, E., Hsu, C., Lee, J., Yarbay Duman, T., & Thompson, C. K. 2011. Time reference in agrammatic aphasia: A cross-linguistic study. Journal of Neurolinguistics, 24, 652–673. doi:10.1016/j.jneuroling.2011.07.001).
Methods and procedures
Two sentence completion tasks testing the production of subject–verb Agreement, Tense/Time Reference, and Mood were administered to 16 Greek-speaking and 10 Italian-speaking individuals with mild-to-moderate AD, as well as to 16 Greek-speaking and 11 Italian-speaking neurologically intact individuals who were matched with the participants with AD on age and education. Mixed-effects models were fitted to the data.
Outcomes and results
At the group level, both the Greek and Italian participants with AD performed worse than the controls. Both AD groups revealed selective patterns of morphosyntactic production (Greek: Agreement/Mood > Time Reference; Italian: Agreement > Time Reference > Mood). Past Reference and Future Reference did not dissociate in either of the two AD groups. Nevertheless, in all four participants with AD who showed dissociations, Past Reference was more impaired than Future Reference.
The results indicate that the production of verb-related morphosyntactic categories can be impaired in mild-to-moderate AD. The different patterns observed in the two languages are partly attributable to the different way these languages encode Mood. The group results (of both the Greek- and Italian-speaking participants with AD) do not lend support to the PADILIH, whereas only the results of the Italian AD group are fully consistent with the IFIH. However, the individual data are consistent with the PADILIH, and the IFIH is informed by the present data and modified accordingly so that it can capture cross-linguistic patterns of morphosyntactic impairment.