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Strengthening the semantic verb network in multilingual people with aphasia: within- and cross-language treatment effects*

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  24 February 2022

Aviva Lerman*
Program in Speech-Language-Hearing Sciences, Graduate Center, City University of New York, New York, NY, USA Program of Communication Disorders, Hadassah Academic College, Jerusalem, Israel
Mira Goral
Program in Speech-Language-Hearing Sciences, Graduate Center, City University of New York, New York, NY, USA Department of Speech-Language-Hearing Sciences, Lehman College, City University of New York, Bronx, NY, USA MultiLing Center for Multilingualism in Society across the Lifespan, University of Oslo, Oslo, Norway
Lisa A. Edmonds
Program of Communication Sciences and Disorders, Teachers College, Columbia University, New York, NY, USA
Loraine K. Obler
Program in Speech-Language-Hearing Sciences, Graduate Center, City University of New York, New York, NY, USA
Address for correspondence: Aviva Lerman, Program in Speech-Language-Hearing Sciences, 365 Fifth Ave, New York City, New York E-mail:


In multilingual people, semantic knowledge is predominantly shared across languages. Providing semantic-focused treatment to people with aphasia has been posited to strengthen connectivity within association cortices that subserve semantic knowledge. In multilingual people, such treatment should result in within- and cross-language generalisation to all languages, although not equally. We investigated treatment effects in two multilingual participants with aphasia who received verb-based semantic treatment in two pre-stroke highly proficient languages. We compared within- and cross-language generalisation patterns across languages, finding within- and cross-language generalisation after treatment in the less-impaired, pre-morbidly more-proficient first-acquired language (L1). This observation supports the theory that connectivity is greater between the lexicon of a pre-morbidly more-proficient L1 and the shared semantic system than the lexicon of a pre-morbidly less-proficient later-acquired language. Our findings of within- and cross-language generalisation patterns could also be explained by both the Competing Mechanisms Theory and the theory of lingering suppression.

Research Article
Copyright © The Author(s), 2022. Published by Cambridge University Press

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