Cortical and structural-connectivity damage correlated with impaired syntactic processing in aphasia

Dirk Bart den Ouden, Svetlana Malyutina, Alexandra Basilakos, Leonardo Bonilha, Ezequiel Gleichgerrcht, Grigori Yourganov, Argye E. Hillis, Gregory Hickok, Chris Rorden, Julius Fridriksson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

16 Scopus citations


Agrammatism in aphasia is not a homogeneous syndrome, but a characterization of a nonuniform set of language behaviors in which grammatical markers and complex syntactic structures are omitted, simplified, or misinterpreted. In a sample of 71 left-hemisphere stroke survivors, syntactic processing was quantified with the Northwestern Assessment of Verbs and Sentences (NAVS). Classification analyses were used to assess the relation between NAVS performance and morphosyntactically reduced speech in picture descriptions. Voxel-based and connectivity-based lesion-symptom mapping were applied to investigate neural correlates of impaired syntactic processing. Despite a nonrandom correspondence between NAVS performance and morphosyntactic production deficits, there was variation in individual patterns of syntactic processing. Morphosyntactically reduced production was predicted by lesions to left-hemisphere inferior frontal cortex. Impaired verb argument structure production was predicted by damage to left-hemisphere posterior superior temporal and angular gyrus, as well as to a ventral pathway between temporal and frontal cortex. Damage to this pathway was also predictive of impaired sentence comprehension and production, particularly of noncanonical sentences. Although agrammatic speech production is primarily predicted by lesions to inferior frontal cortex, other aspects of syntactic processing rely rather on regional integrity in temporoparietal cortex and the ventral stream.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2153-2173
Number of pages21
JournalHuman Brain Mapping
Issue number7
StatePublished - May 2019


  • agrammatism
  • aphasia
  • connectome
  • lesion-symptom mapping
  • magnetic resonance imaging
  • syntax

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Anatomy
  • Radiological and Ultrasound Technology
  • Radiology Nuclear Medicine and imaging
  • Neurology
  • Clinical Neurology


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