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What underlies the neuropsychological pattern of irregular > regular past-tense verb production?
Lambon Ralph, M.A., Braber, N., Mcclelland, J.L. & PATTERSON, K.
Brain and Language, 93(1), 106-119
Year of publication:
The disadvantage in producing the past tense of regular relative to irregular verbs shown by some patients with non-fluent aphasia has been alternatively attributed (a) to the failure of a specific rule-based morphological mechanism, or (b) to a more generalised phonological impairment that penalises regular verbs more than irregular owing to the on-average greater phonological complexity of regular past-tense forms. Guided by the second of these two accounts, the current study was designed to identify more specific aspects of phonological deficit that might be associated with the pattern of irregular > regular past-tense production. Non-fluent aphasic patients (N=8) were tested on past-tense verb production tasks and assessed with regard to the impact of three main manipulations in other word-production tasks: (i) insertion of a delay between stimulus and response in repetition; (ii) presence/number of consonant clusters in a target word in repetition; (iii) position of stress within a bi-syllabic word in repetition and picture naming. The performance of all patients deteriorated in delayed repetition; but the patients with the largest discrepancy between regular and irregular past-tense production showed greater sensitivity to the other two manipulations. The phonological nature of the factors that correlated with verb-inflection performance emphasises the role of a phonological deficit in the observed pattern of irregular > regular.