OBJECTIVE SUPPORT FOR THE SUBJECTIVE REPORT OF SUCCESSFUL INNER SPEECH IN PEOPLE WITH APHASIA
Aphasia is an acquired impairment of language typically caused by stroke, and almost always includes anomia, difficulty with naming and word finding. Anecdotally, people with aphasia often report being able to say internally a word that they are unable to say aloud. In this project, we use psycholinguistic testing and functional neuroimaging to objectively characterise the subjective experience of successful inner speech in a group of people with aphasia.In doing so, we show that successful inner speech relates to correct aloud naming, phonologically-related errors and performance on tasks that require phonological access. We show that successful inner speech is stable across multiple days, but that the report may depend on any explicit task being performed subsequently. We also show that successful inner speech relates to word characteristics associated with ease of access, but not to characteristics associated with ease of production like articulation. In two participants, we show a relationship between the report of successful inner speech and better treatment outcome during speech-language therapy. Using functional MRI, we also demonstrate that the report of successful inner speech directly relates to brain activity during a covert naming task in two participants.Overall, this research demonstrates that the report of successful inner speech is meaningful, and provides new information about a commonly-reported yet understudied phenomenon. The findings are relevant to our understanding of speech production and self-monitoring, and may prove clinically useful. Inner speech could become an important new tool for the study anomia, aphasia and language in general, as well as fundamentally change our understanding of the experience of aphasia.
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