Chinese Verb Network Strengthening Treatment (VNeST)

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Bilingual aphasia refers to the loss of one or both languages after brain damage to the language regions. Treatment in bilingual aphasic population is important when treatment in one language can generalize to the other, which will vastly increase the efficiency during language recovery process. As the above graph from the American Academy of Arts & Sciences (2016) shows, Chinese is spoken by the third largest population following English and Spanish by U.S. residents from 2008-2010. Therefore, the largely increased population of Mandarin-English bilinguals also increases the risk of developing stroke and aphasia. Chinese also differs from English in a variety of ways, such that Chinese is “verb-friendly”, which means that verbs do not have morphosyntactic endings like in English. There’s also evidence showing that verbs in Chinese are learned earlier than nouns comparing to other languages. Nevertheless, most prior bilingual treatment studies have focused on Indo-European languages, such as Spanish and French, which brought clinical and research challenges for language recovery in Mandarin-speaking patients with aphasia.

Verb deficit is universally seen in aphasia population, even though most treatment studies focused on improving noun retrieval. Verb retrieval plays a core role in sentence formulation and production abilities

The original Verb Network Strengthening Treatment (VNeST) developed by Edmonds and colleagues (2009) aims to improve verb retrieval ability in sentence context. The treatment outcome is predicted based on the notions that verbs and their thematic roles (such as agent and patient) will be co-activated, also that training a target verb can generalize to another verb that shares semantic representations with the target verb. Previous VNeST studies have shown positive treatment outcomes as well as within-language generalization to semantically-related verbs in English, Korean, and Hebrew aphasic patients. Hence, the current study aims to extend the treatment method in Mandarin-speaking bilinguals with aphasia to investigate these effects. This work is important from both clinical and research standpoint.