Training flexible conceptual retrieval in post-stroke aphasia

Sara Stampacchia, Glyn P. Hallam, Hannah E. Thompson, Upasana Nathaniel, Lucilla Lanzoni, Jonathan Smallwood, Matthew A. Lambon Ralph, Elizabeth Jefferies*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Semantic therapy in post-stroke aphasia typically focusses on strengthening links between conceptual representations and their lexical-articulatory forms to aid word retrieval. However, research has shown that semantic deficits in this group can affect both verbal and non-verbal tasks, particularly in patients with deregulated retrieval as opposed to degraded knowledge. This study, therefore, aimed to facilitate semantic cognition in a sample of such patients with post-stroke semantic aphasia (SA) by training the identification of both strong and weak semantic associations and providing explicit pictorial feedback that demonstrated both common and more unusual ways of linking concepts together. We assessed the effects of this training on (i) trained and untrained items; and (ii) trained and untrained tasks in eleven individuals with SA. In the training task, the SA group showed improvement with practice, particularly for trained items. A similar untrained task using pictorial stimuli (Camel and Cactus Test) also improved. Together, these results suggest that semantic training can be beneficial in patients with SA and may show some degree of generalization to untrained situations. Future research should seek to understand which patients are most likely to benefit from this type of training.

Original languageEnglish
JournalNeuropsychological Rehabilitation
Early online date14 Mar 2021
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 14 Mar 2021

Bibliographical note

© 2021 The Author(s). Published by Informa UK Limited, trading as Taylor & Francis Group.


  • Aphasia
  • cognitive control
  • executive
  • semantic
  • training

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