Locating events on a timeline allows us to keep track of the past, live the present and plan the future. Some individuals can lose this fundamental aspect of human existence: aphasic patients. Aphasia is a language disorder typically caused by a stroke or a head injury that affects the ability to read, write and speak coherently. The source of the temporal impairment in aphasia is still unknown. Previous accounts focused on the linguistic aspect of this deficit, but data coming from clinical case reports and experimental studies suggest that this temporal impairment may not be exclusively linguistic. The main aim of this project is to carry out a systematic investigation of time processing in aphasic patients across different domains and, for the first time, through the use of structural magnetic resonance imaging. Three questions will be addressed: which aspects of time processing are impaired in aphasic patients? Is this impairment language-specific? What is the neurobiological basis of time processing? Behavioral (neurolinguistics/cognitive science) paradigms testing different aspects of non-/linguistic time processing will be combined with a voxel-based lesion-symptom mapping (VLSM) analysis and diffusion magnetic resonance imaging (dMRI). VLSM allows to analyze the relationship between lesioned grey matter and patients’ performance on a voxel-by-voxel basis, without the need of grouping patients based on lesion site or behavioral cut-off scores, while dMRI allows to explore which white matter pathways are also affected. Diffusion indexes will be also used to analyze the relationship between white matter fiber tract integrity and patients' performance. This proposal will provide answers to long-standing questions concerning the nature of the temporal impairment in aphasic patients and the neural underpinnings of time processing. This work will also lay the foundations for the development of new clinical tools for aphasic patients suffering temporal impairment.
Fields of science
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