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The assessment of severe lexical disorders in Italian individuals with aphasia

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Abstract

Tests and batteries used in the evaluation of language impairments are overly complex and often ineffective (too difficult) in the assessment of post-stroke patients affected by severe aphasia (global aphasia). The present study reports details on the construction and standardization of a new Italian battery of tasks, specifically designed to assess severe lexical disorders in acquired aphasia (Battery for the Assessment of Severe Acquired Lexical Damage in Italian, BASALDI). The battery is composed of a common set of 64 stimuli (concrete nouns), belonging to both living and non-living categories, and consists of four lexical tasks assessing picture naming, repetition, reading aloud, and oral comprehension. The item selection was based on word frequency, word length, and phonological-articulatory complexity, namely the presence of continuant vs. plosive phones, a variable that may interact with word production in case of severe language damage. Standardization (naming agreement) of a new set of 64 colored images and normative data on Italian healthy subjects pooled across homogenous subgroups for age, gender, and education are reported. Finally, for the four tasks, percentile ranks and z-scores were calculated from a pool of 92 left brain-damaged patients affected by aphasia of different types and severity. The battery allows a fine investigation of lexical disorders, being suitable for diagnostic assessment of mild-to-moderate and severe aphasic lexical deficits, detection of changes over time, and possible dissociations between tasks.

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Notes

  1. 1.

    In Italian phonology and with only some exceptions (mainly loanwords, e.g., tram, streetcar), content words usually end with a vowel. Consequently, monosyllabic words are very rare and the bisyllabic structure (C)VCV (e.g., uva, grape; nave, ship) constitutes a condition of phonological simplicity.

  2. 2.

    For clinical purposes, it is recommended to separate sub-tests over time and to administer them on different days.

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Acknowledgments

We thank Alessandra Caporali and Verena Biscaro for their help in data collection.

Author information

Correspondence to Laura Veronelli.

Ethics declarations

The study has been designed according to the ethical standards of the Declaration of Helsinki (British Medical Journal, 302: 1194, 1991), and approved by the local ethical committee.

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

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Appendix

Appendix

Table 5 Word frequency (WF, high: A–D item types; low: E–H item types), number of syllables (Syll, 2 syllables: A, B, E, F item types; 3–4 syllables: C, D, G, H item types), and phonological-articulatory complexity (Ph-AC, continuant: A, C, E, G item types; plosive: B, D, F, H item types), for the target words included in the battery. NA, name agreement (%) of the corresponding picture; RO, randomized order
Table 6 Target word (uppercase) and distractors included in the comprehension task, disposed in the four-alternative multiple-choice set (upper left, upper right, lower left, lower right position). RO, randomized order
Table 7 Table of percentile ranks with accompanying interval estimates and Z-scores for the confrontation naming task calculated in the group of patients with aphasia
Table 8 Table of percentile ranks with accompanying interval estimates and Z-scores for the reading aloud task, calculated in the group of patients with aphasia
Table 9 Table of percentile ranks with accompanying interval estimates and Z-scores for the repetition task, calculated in the group of patients with aphasia
Table 10 Table of percentile ranks with accompanying interval estimates and Z-scores for the oral comprehension task, calculated in the group of patients with aphasia

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Veronelli, L., Scola, I., Frustaci, M. et al. The assessment of severe lexical disorders in Italian individuals with aphasia. Neurol Sci (2020). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10072-020-04262-3

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Keywords

  • Lexical disorders
  • Naming
  • Aphasia
  • Severe damage
  • Battery of tasks
  • Standardization