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Using Hungarian language to clarify language-thought relations in impaired populations Csaba Pléh and Ágnes Lukács Department of Cognitive Science Budapest.

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Presentation on theme: "Using Hungarian language to clarify language-thought relations in impaired populations Csaba Pléh and Ágnes Lukács Department of Cognitive Science Budapest."— Presentation transcript:

1 Using Hungarian language to clarify language-thought relations in impaired populations Csaba Pléh and Ágnes Lukács Department of Cognitive Science Budapest University of Technology and Economics and HAS-BME Research Group of Neuropsychology and Psycholinguistics Talk at the symposium on Williams Syndrome Fonyód, Hungary, June 25th 2005

2 Outline The logic of studying genetic disorders of cognition Williams syndrome as a favorit dissociative disorder Possible role of interlanguage comparions Studies on Hungarian in WS subjects Supporting spatial language problems, but rejecting a specific disorder, questioning the simple intact grammar versus impaired lexicon dissocation

3 Disordered populations and cross- linguistic comparisons If there is a genetic disorder, it should be manifested in the same way in all languages and cultures Crosslingustic comparisons are still relevant: I. They allow to separate factors that are tied in one language. E.g. irregularity and frequency in English morphology. II. They may help to support epigenetic theories that emphasize the complex pathways leading to disturbed cognition

4 The interest towards Williams syndrome Promises to help understand the genes- brain-cognition chain Clear dissociations proposed in cognition: WS social - autistic asocial WS localistic - Down syndrome holistic WS good language – SLI weak language

5 WS cognition: Strengths and weaknesses Strengths Good social skills Relative good language Grammar good in language Musicality Weaknesses Low IQ Weak visuo-spatial cognition Lexicon and knowledge weak Hyperacusia

6 Language in Williams syndrome: Theories and the Hungarian data Studies and theories Frequency is not relevant in the lexicon The mental lexicon is atypically organized Grammatical rules seem to be intact (Pinker, Clahsen) The language of space is especially weak Hungarian „test” Frequencies and individual differences More categories and category fluencies More stem classes and frequencies used Weakness, but no qualitative differences

7 Language profile in the Hungarian WS project (Lukács és Pléh) WS levelWS pattern 1. Vocabulary<+ 2. Semantic fluency++ 3. Pragmatic cues in lexical learning szótanulásban TROG<+ 5.Rules and exceptions in morphology <+ 6.Grammaticality judgement <- 7. Anaphora++ 8. Spatial expressions production and comprehension <+ 9. Sentence completion++

8 Stimuli in the picture naming task Nouns Verbs Compounds Frequent Rare

9 Lexical frequency effect: Present

10 Effects of verbal STM span Frequent: F(1,13)=1.35, n.s. Rare: (1,13)=13.13, p<.005

11 Threshold effects: in controls, verbal working memory correlations nin significant in controls Vocabulary measureWSControl N, Freq,51 *,23 N, rare,63 *,27 V, freq,43,22 V, rare,48 *,16 Comp, Freq,61 *,25 Comp, rare,47 *,14

12 Semantic fluency and supposed iddyosynchretic organization WS subjects and controls matched on verbal age in a category fluency task

13 Comparisons based on category norms of Kónya & Pintér (1986) No systematic differences between the two groups in the frequency of items they produced WS produced less frequent musical instrument names No systematic differences between the two groups in the average rank of items they produced WS subjects had higher scores (i.e. pruduced items appearing later in the original lists) in clothes and musical instruments

14 Morphological irregularity Stimuli in the morphology task Regular cipő-cipők ‘shoe’-’shoes’ Irregular bagoly-baglyok ‘owl’-’owls’

15 Presupposed dissociation is missing: Rules vs. Items

16 Qualitative comparison of errors If anything, more overgeneralization in controls

17 Spatial versus nonspatial morphology in WS: As expected, spatial language is impaired

18 The language of space in Hungarian allows for qualitative comparisons Obligatory distinctions along the path Three markers for GOAL, SOURCE, LOCATION. Is there a difference?

19 WS is weaker in postposition production. SOURCES are difficult for both groups

20 Less difference in comprehension than production, suffixes

21 Source difficulty Our data support Landau and Zukowski’s hypothesis: the difficulty with retaining information in memory can account for special difficulty with SOURCE paths. The pattern is similar to what we observe in typical development at earlier stages.

22 Comparing spatial and non-spatial uses in a repetition task SPATIAL Az oroszlán megszökött a ketrecből. The lion escaped the cage-ELA. The lion escaped from the cage. NON SPATIAL Pisti tanult a balesetből Pisti learnt the accident-ELA. Pisti learnt from the accident.

23 Possibilities here Non-spatial is relatively easier for WS subjects Non-spatial is more difficult for both groups Differences diminish since there is no need for referntial coding of space

24 Non spatial is weaker for both groups

25 Conclusions: Why was it relevant to do studies in Hungarian? Frequencv is a factor in WS language, and memory is an important mediating variable WS shows no clear support for the intact rules – impaired lexicon model Spatial language is impaired in WS, but the patterns is the same as in typical development Difficulties with spatial language in WS reflect their problems in spatial cognition

26 Acknowledgements Hungarian Willams Syndrome Association NSF, Hungarian National Science Foundation, Hungarian National R and D Foundation


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