Title: How language impairments can help us to understand how language is processed in the brain: time reference in agrammatic aphasia

Locatie: VOC-zaal (Universiteit van Amsterdam: E02; Oost-Indisch Huis; Kloveniersburgwal 48; 1012 CX Amsterdam)

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Brain damage caused by, for example, a stroke, may result in impairments to language processing. This is called ‘aphasia’. Dependent on the site and the size of the brain lesion, different linguistic levels may be affected. Usually, phonology, lexical semantics and grammar are all distorted, but so-called ‘pure aphasias’ are not rare. Video clips will be presented to show how aphasia can be manifested, but the talk will focus on impairments to the interface of grammar and semantics, that is, on the production of verb morphology to refer to a time frame (past, present and future). The theory behind the hypothesis that reference to the past is particularly difficult (PAst DIscourse LInking Hypothesis: PADILIH; Bastiaanse et al., 2012) will be explained. The Test for Assessing Reference of Time (TART; Bastiaanse, Jonkers & Thompson, 2010) will be introduced and the methodological problems that arise when developing a test for different languages and cultures will be discussed. Aphasia data from more than 10 typologically different languages (including Mandarin, Swahili and Akan) will be presented to illustrate how selective a language disorder may be.

Bastiaanse, R. Bamyaci, E., Hsu, C.-J. Lee, J., Yarbay Duman, T. & Thompson, C.K. (2011) Time reference in agrammatic aphasia: A cross-linguistic study. Journal of Neurolinguistics, 24, 652-673.

Bastiaanse, R., Jonkers, R. & Thompson, C.K. (2010) Test for Assessing Reference of Time (TART). Groningen: University of Groningen.


Roelien Bastiaanse got her master’s degree in Linguistics in 1983 (University of Amsterdam) and then started her career as a clinical linguist. In 1989, she got a position at the University of Groningen and obtained her PhD in 1993. In 1997, she was appointed as full professor in Neurolinguistics. The focus of her research has always been on language impairments in healthy adults, with emphasis on crosslinguistic aspects of grammatical disorders (word order, verbs). Recently, she was also appointed as Scientific Director of the Center for Brain and Language at the Higher School of Economics in Moscow.