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Primary Progressive Aphasia (PPA) is a neurodegenerative condition where speech and language deficits are the initial and most prominent symptoms. There are three recognized PPA variants with distinctive speech-language features, areas of atrophy, and underlying neuropathology. In the early stages of all variants, language symptoms may be very mild, such that they can only be seen on more complex and generative tasks (e.g., discourse production) rather than naming, repetition, etc. Previous work by Dalton et al. (2020) focused on MCA and Core Lexicon demonstrated that, compared to HCs, PWPPAs produced discourse that was less informative and efficient, with fewer typical lexical items. The results clearly demonstrated that changes in discourse were apparent by the time patients and their families had sought a medical diagnosis or referral for their language problems.

Recently, main concept analysis (MCA) and story grammar approaches were combined into an analytic approach titled Main Concept, Sequencing, and Story Grammar (MSSG) analyses (Greenslade et al., 2020). Greenslade et al. (2020) investigated the usefulness of MSSG for measuring age-related changes in 92 HCs and revealed differences in MSSG variables when comparing older to younger participants, supporting the use of MSSG variables for identifying age-related changes and disorder-related impairments in narrative macrostructure. Richardson et al. (2021) applied MSSG to 110 HCs and 370 persons with aphasia (PWAs), reporting significant differences between HCs and PWAs (and subtypes) for all variables.

The purpose of this study is to use MSSG analyses to examine macrostructural discourse characteristics of PWPPAs during the Cinderella story retelling task. Our findings provide additional support for the value of analyzing discourse in PWPPAs and for justifying future work to use discourse, along with other brain and behavioral measures, to improve detection and diagnostics, provide justification for and receipt of services, and improve tracking of disease progression.


Poster presented at the Brain & Behavioral Health Research Day 2022



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