Morphosyntactic and syntactic priming: An investigation of underlying processing mechanisms and the effects of Parkinson's disease

Wendy L. Arnott, HJ Chenery, Bruce E. Murdoch, Peter A. Silburn

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7 Citations (Scopus)


There is now considerable evidence to suggest that non-demented people with Parkinson's disease (PD) experience difficulties using the morphosyntactic aspects of language. It remains unclear, however, at precisely which point in the processing of morphosyntax, these difficulties emerge. The major objective of the present study was to examine the impact of PD on the processes involved in accessing morphosyntactic information in the lexicon. Nineteen people with PD and 19 matched control subjects participated in the study which employed on-line word recognition tasks to examine morphosyntactic priming for local grammatical dependencies that occur both within (e.g. is going) and across (e.g. she gives) phrasal boundaries (Experiments I and 2, respectively). The control group evidenced robust morphosyntactic priming effects that were consistent with the involvement of both pre- (Experiment 1) and post-lexical (Experiment 2) processing routines. Whilst the participants with PD also recorded priming for dependencies within phrasal boundaries (Experiment 1), priming effects were observed over an abnormally brief time course. Further, in contrast to the controls, the PD group failed to record morphosyntactic priming for constructions that crossed phrasal boundaries (Experiment 2). The results demonstrate that attentionally mediated mechanisms operating at both the pre- and post-lexical stages of processing are able to contribute to morphosyntactic priming effects. In addition, the findings support the notion that, whilst people with PD are able to access morphosyntactic information in a normal manner, the time frame in which this information remains available for processing is altered. Deficits may also be experienced at the post-lexical integrational stage of processing. (c) 2005 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-28
Number of pages28
JournalJournal of Neurolinguistics
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2005
Externally publishedYes


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