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Auditory beat perception is related to speech output fluency in post-stroke aphasia

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  • James D. Stefaniak, Manchester University, University of Cambridge
  • ,
  • Matthew A. Lambon Ralph, University of Cambridge
  • ,
  • Blanca De Dios Perez, University of Nottingham
  • ,
  • Timothy D. Griffiths, Newcastle University Medical School, University College London
  • ,
  • Manon Grube, Newcastle University Medical School

Aphasia affects at least one third of stroke survivors, and there is increasing awareness that more fundamental deficits in auditory processing might contribute to impaired language performance in such individuals. We performed a comprehensive battery of psychoacoustic tasks assessing the perception of tone pairs and sequences across the domains of pitch, rhythm and timbre in 17 individuals with post-stroke aphasia and 17 controls. At the level of individual differences we demonstrated a correlation between metrical pattern (beat) perception and speech output fluency with strong effect (Spearman’s rho = 0.72). This dissociated from more basic auditory timing perception, which did not correlate with output fluency. This was also specific in terms of the language and cognitive measures, amongst which phonological, semantic and executive function did not correlate with beat detection. We interpret the data in terms of a requirement for the analysis of the metrical structure of sound to construct fluent output, with both being a function of higher-order “temporal scaffolding”. The beat perception task herein allows measurement of timing analysis without any need to account for motor output deficit, and could be a potential clinical tool to examine this. This work suggests strategies to improve fluency after stroke by training in metrical pattern perception.

Original languageEnglish
Article number3168
JournalScientific Reports
Publication statusPublished - Feb 2021

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