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Access Type

WSU Access

Date of Award

1-1-2010

Degree Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Ph.D.

Department

Communication Sciences and Disorders

First Advisor

Margaret Greenwald

Abstract

The purpose of this study was to examine the relationship between executive function and performance on selected linguistic tasks in persons with aphasia secondary to left frontal lesions.

A group of 15 persons with aphasia (PWA) completed three communication board tasks of varying levels of complexity and structure. The subject's functional use of the picture/word communication board was tested during a Story Retelling task. In addition, the PWA's executive function skills were examined using six nonverbal tests. The PWA group performance scores were compared to that of the neurologically healthy control group.

Results demonstrated that the control group performed significantly better than the PWA group during 2 of the 3 executive function tests. In addition, the control group was more proficient at switching modalities and spontaneously using the target symbols correctly on the picture communication board compared to the PWA group during the story retelling task. There was no significant correlation found when comparing the PWA's language skills and executive function using standardized tools. However, during many of the executive function tests the PWA tended to consistently demonstrate the following error types: perseverative, poor planning and decreased memory of task rules. When given picture pointing board tasks of high and low complexity during a highly structured or relatively unstructured environment, the PWA consistently performed better with the low complexity tasks in a structured environment. While the study showed that aphasia severity can not consistently predict performance on tests of executive function there were some noteworthy behavioral patterns observed during both the executive function and communication board tasks. The PWA demonstrated difficulty with planning, mental flexibility and self monitoring. In addition, response accuracy was usually dependent on the provision of task structure.