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ORIGINAL ARTICLE
Commun Sci Disord. 2012;17(2): 338-355.
Effects of Syntactic Complexity on Sentence Comprehension in Persons with Mild Cognitive Impairment and Dementia of Alzheimer’s Type
Jin Kyung Kim` , Jee Eun Sung` , and Jee Hyang Jeong`
Copyright ©2012 The Korean Academy of Speech-Language Pathology and Audiology
김진경(Jin Kyung Kim)| 성지은(Jee Eun Sung)| 정지향(Jee Hyang Jeong)
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ABSTRACT

Background & Objectives
Several studies have investigated sentence comprehension deficits in individuals with dementia of Alzheimer’s type (DAT) and individuals with mild cognitive impairment (MCI), who have mostly converted to DAT. However, the effects of syntactic complexity on sentence comprehension have not been thoroughly studied in Korean-speaking individuals with MCI and DAT. The purpose of the current study was to investigate whether there were significant differences in a sentence-picture matching (SPM) task as a function of syntactic complexity among three groups: normal elderly adults (NEA), MCI, and DAT.
Methods
Twenty individuals with MCI, 14 with DAT, and 20 age-matched NEA participated in the study. Performance on the SPM task was analyzed using a two-way mixed analysis of variance (ANOVA). The SPM task consisted of five different syntactic structures: 1) coordinate conjunction, 2) subject-subject relative clause, 3) subject-object relative clause, 4) object-subject relative clause, and 5) object-object relative clause.
Results
The results can be summarized as follows. First, there were significant differences among the three groups and the results indicated that the NEA group presented higher accuracy than the MCI and DAT groups, but the MCI group did not differ from the DAT group. Second, sentences with higher syntactic complexity components yielded lower accuracy than those with simpler syntactic structures. Third, the NEA group showed significantly higher accuracy than the MCI and DAT groups, who did not differ from each other, in simple sentences with parallel function and subject related sentences than in complex sentences with non-parallel function and object related sentences. Discussion & Conclusions: The results of this study indicate that Korean-speaking individuals with MCI and DAT are less accurate in overall sentence comprehension than the NEA group. In addition, all of the groups showed lower accuracy in comprehension of complex sentences than simple sentences. The current results suggest that the syntactic-complexity based on the SPM task could be a sensitive tool for use in differentiating the MCI and DAT groups from the normal aging population.
Keywords: 통사적 복잡성 | 문장이해능력 | 경도인지장애 | 알츠하이머성 치매 | syntactic complexity | sentence comprehension | mild cognitive impairment
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