Syntactic priming in bilingual patients with parallel and differential aphasia

Nele Verreyt*, Louisa Bogaerts, Uschi Cop, Sarah Bernolet, Miet De Letter, Dimitri Hemelsoet, Patrick Santens, Wouter Duyck

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to JournalArticleAcademicpeer-review


Background: Syntactic priming is the phenomenon by which the production or processing of a sentence is facilitated when that sentence is preceded by a sentence with a similar syntactic structure. Previous research has shown that this phenomenon also occurs across languages, i.e., hearing a sentence in one language can facilitate the production of a sentence with the same structure in another language. This suggests that syntactic representations are shared across languages. Aims: The aim of the current study is to investigate this cross-lingual syntactic priming in patients with bilingual aphasia. To address this aim, we asked the following three research questions: (1) do patients with bilingual aphasia show priming effects within and across languages? (2) do these priming effects differ from the priming effects observed in control participants? and (3) does the pattern of priming effects interact with the type of aphasia? Methods & Procedures: We tested two groups of patients: one group had similar impairments in both languages (parallel aphasia); in the other group, the impairments were larger in one of the languages (differential aphasia). We investigated syntactic priming within and across languages by means of a dialogue experiment. Outcomes & results: We found significant cross-lingual priming effects in both patient groups as well as in a control group. In addition, the effect size of both patient groups was similar to that of the control group. Conclusions: These findings support models that incorporate shared syntactic representations across languages, and are in favour of a non-localised account of differential aphasia in bilingual aphasia.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)867-887
Number of pages21
Issue number7
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jul 2013
Externally publishedYes


  • Aphasia
  • Bilingualism
  • Differential aphasia
  • Parallel aphasia
  • Syntactic priming


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