People with aphasia (PWA) are variable in their language abilities from one occasion to the next. This individual variability may be accounted for by other cognitive mechanisms, short-term memory (STM) and conflict resolution (CR) among them. STM is defined as the process underlying the maintenance of activated linguistic information over a short period or delay. CR is defined as an executive attention process underlying the inhibition of interfering stimuli or response selections. It is well-established that persons with aphasia exhibit deficits in STM and demonstrate impairments of executive attention functions, most prominently, CR. However, research in aphasia has produced conflicting results as to whether these cognitive functions cause, contribute to, co-occur, or are unrelated to sentence-level language comprehension processing in healthy persons or to their deficits in PWA. This study will investigate the relationships among the two well-defined cognitive constructs of STM and CR, and the three linguistic domains of phonology, semantics and syntax that are involved in sentence comprehension. It will address a fundamental question relating to the cause of language disorders in aphasia: Are these disorders caused by deficits in linguistic-specific processes, by other cognitive functions such as STM and CR or are they simply coexisting disorders?

The UW Aphasia Lab is one of four research sites in this multi-site study (also University of Pittsburgh/Pittsburgh VA; Temple University; VA Northern California/Martinez), recruiting a total of 160 participants over the course of this four-year study.

CV for Principle Investigator Malcolm McNeil, Ph.D.


Date Range: 
10/01/2013 to 09/30/2017
Funding Source: 
VA RR&D Merit Review Grant
Malcolm McNeil (Principal Investigator)
Reva Robinson