Sentence comprehension abilities were investigated in a patient with semantic dementia who was administered tests of semantic knowledge and sentence comprehension over a 5-year period. Results showed that despite a severe and continual degradation in semantic knowledge, syntactic comprehension abilities remained largely intact. Evidence was also found for a codependency between semantics and syntax in a task in which knowledge about conceptual number influenced subject-verb agreement in the patient and in control participants. Results are discussed in relation to the nature of the sentence comprehension impairment in semantic dementia and with reference to the modularity of the components of the language processing system.
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Correspondence should be addressed to Elizabeth Rochon, Graduate Department of Speech-Language Pathology, University of Toronto, Rehabilitation Sciences Building, 500 University Ave., Toronto, Canada MSG 1V7 (Email: firstname.lastname@example.org). We thank AK for her continued willingness to participate in our research and Dr Morris Freedman, Baycrest Centre for Geriatric Care, for referring her to us. We also thank Dr Karalyn Patterson and an anonymous reviewer for helpful comments. This research was supported in part by a University of Toronto Connaught grant to Elizabeth Rochon.
Copyright 2008 Elsevier B.V., All rights reserved.