Repeating with the right hemisphere: reduced interactions between phonological and lexical-semantic systems in crossed aphasia?


Knowledge on the patterns of repetition amongst individuals who develop language deficits in association with right hemisphere lesions (crossed aphasia) is very limited. Available data indicate that repetition in some crossed aphasics experiencing phonological processing deficits is not heavily influenced by lexical-semantic variables (lexicality, imageability, and frequency) as is regularly reported in phonologically-impaired cases with left hemisphere damage. Moreover, in view of the fact that crossed aphasia is rare, information on the role of right cortical areas and white matter tracts underpinning language repetition deficits is scarce. In this study, repetition performance was assessed in two patients with crossed conduction aphasia and striatal/capsular vascular lesions encompassing the right arcuate fasciculus (AF) and inferior frontal-occipital fasciculus (IFOF), the temporal stem and the white matter underneath the supramarginal gyrus. Both patients showed lexicality effects repeating better words than nonwords, but manipulation of other lexical-semantic variables exerted less influence on repetition performance. Imageability and frequency effects, production of meaning-based paraphrases during sentence repetition, or better performance on repeating novel sentences than overlearned clichés were hardly ever observed in these two patients. In one patient, diffusion tensor imaging disclosed damage to the right long direct segment of the AF and IFOF with relative sparing of the anterior indirect and posterior segments of the AF, together with fully developed left perisylvian white matter pathways. These findings suggest that striatal/capsular lesions extending into the right AF and IFOF in some individuals with right hemisphere language dominance are associated with atypical repetition patterns which might reflect reduced interactions between phonological and lexical-semantic processes.

Frontiers in Human Neuroscience