Language and syntactic impairment following stroke in late bilingual aphasics

Muriel Tschirren, Marina Laganaro, Patrik Michel, Marie Dominique Martory, Marie Di Pietro, Jubin Abutalebi, Jean Marie Annoni

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Purpose: Bilingual aphasia generally affects both languages. However, the age of acquisition of the second language (L2) seems to play a role in the anatomo-functional correlation of the syntactical/grammatical processes, thus potentially influencing the L2 syntactic impairment following a stroke. The present study aims to analyze the influence of late age of acquisition of the L2 on syntactic impairment in bilingual aphasic patients. Methods: Twelve late bilingual participants (speaking French as L2 and either English, German, Italian or Spanish as L1) with stroke-induced aphasia participated in the study. The MAST or BAT aphasia batteries were used to evaluate overall aphasia score. An auditory syntactic judgement task was developed and used to test participants syntactic performance. Results: The overall aphasia scores did not differ between L1 and L2. In a multiple case analysis, only one patient had lower scores in L2. However, four patients presented significantly lower performances in syntactic processing in the late L2 than in their native language (L1). In these four patients the infarct was localized, either exclusively or at least partially, in the pre-rolandic region. Conclusion: This pilot study suggests that, in late bilingual aphasics, syntactic judgment abilities may be more severely impaired in L2, and that this syntactic deficit is most likely to occur following anterior lesions.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)238-242
Number of pages5
JournalBrain and Language
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2011


  • Bilingual aphasia
  • Broca area
  • Stroke
  • Syntax

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Linguistics and Language
  • Speech and Hearing
  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
  • Cognitive Neuroscience
  • Language and Linguistics


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