Jpn. J. Commun. Disord., Vol. 21, No. 3, pp. 165-171, 2004 (in Japanese)

The discrimination of pitch-accent in aphasic patients

M. Irie, M. Shindo, N. Nagatsuka and T. Arai

Abstract: The aim of this study was to investigate the capabilities of aphasic patients in the discrimination of pitch-accent and tone in relation to the severity of aphasia. The subjects were 74 aphasics and 19 normal controls. They were asked to make same/different judgments of pitch patterns in the pair of stimuli: two-mora-word pairs and two-mora-non-word pairs (pitch-accent task), and non-linguistic tone pairs (tonal task). The words in the pairs were the same in phonemes but different in accent patterns. The tones had similar pitch patterns to Japanese accent patterns. The findings were as follows: 1) The aphasics' capabilities of pitch-accent discrimination were poorer than those of the normal controls; 2) the severer the degree of aphasia, the poorer the patient's performance in the tasks; 3) there was a strong correlation between scores on the pitch-accent task and those on the tonal task; and 4) a gentle incline of the contours of pitch patterns made it more difficult for aphasics to distinguish pitch patterns in both the tasks. Characteristics of pitch-accent discrimination observed in aphasics are further discussed.

Keywords: aphasia, linguistic prosody, pitch accent, pitch pattern

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