We sought to identify the core lexicon of a picture-description task using transcripts from the AphasiaBank database and to determine differences in core-lexicon usage between control speakers and persons with aphasia (PWAs). We also investigated the relationship between core lexicon and an established discourse measure, main-concept analysis.


A core lexicon was developed by identifying lemmas produced by 92 control speakers. Transcripts were scored—165 control transcripts and 238 PWA transcripts—using the core lexicon and a recently developed main-concept list. Median tests examined differences between controls, PWAs, and aphasia subtypes. Spearman's correlations assessed the relationship between core-lexicon and main-concept performance.


A 24-item core lexicon was identified. Significant differences were found between control speakers and PWAs, and between aphasia subtypes, for core-lexicon and main-concept scores. Core-lexicon and main-concept performance was significantly and positively correlated for all groups.


We report the development of a core lexicon, differences in core-lexicon usage between speakers, and the relationship between core-lexicon and main-concept scores. Research is needed to determine the clinical utility and psychometric properties of these discourse measures and their potential contribution to multilevel discourse analysis of functional communication.


  • Andreetta, S., Cantagallo, A., & Marini, A. (2012). Narrative discourse in anomic aphasia.Neuropsychologia, 50, 1787–1793.
  • Armstrong, E. (2000). Aphasic discourse analysis: The story so far.Aphasiology, 14, 875–892.
  • Armstrong, L., Brady, M., Mackenzie, C., & Norrie, J. (2007). Transcription‐less analysis of aphasic discourse: A clinician's dream or a possibility?.Aphasiology, 21, 355–374.
  • Bates, E., & Goodman, J. C. (1997). On the inseparability of grammar and the lexicon: Evidence from acquisition, aphasia and real-time processing.Language and Cognitive Processes, 12, 507–584.
  • Boyle, M. (2014). Test–retest stability of word retrieval in aphasic discourse.Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research, 57, 966–978.
  • Capilouto, G., Wright, H. H., & Wagovich, S. A. (2005). CIU and main event analyses of the structured discourse of older and younger adults.Journal of Communication Disorders, 38, 431–444.
  • Caramazza, A., & Berndt, R. S. (1985). A multicomponent deficit view of agrammatic Broca's aphasia.In M.-L. Kean (Ed.), Agrammatism (pp. 27–63). New York, NY: Academic Press.
  • Carey, J. W. (1988). Communication as culture: Essays on media and society. New York, NY: Psychology Press.
  • Chaytor, N., & Schmitter-Edgecombe, M. (2003). The ecological validity of neuropsychological tests: A review of the literature on everyday cognitive skills.Neuropsychology Review, 13, 181–197.
  • Cooper, P. V. (1990). Discourse production and normal aging: Performance on oral picture description tasks.Journals of Gerontology, 45, P210–P214.
  • Dimbleby, R., & Burton, G. (1998). More than words: An introduction to communication (3rd ed.). New York, NY: Routledge.
  • Duncan, E. A. S., & Murray, J. (2012). The barriers and facilitators to routine outcome measurement by allied health professionals in practice: A systematic review.BMC Health Services Research, 12(96), 1–9.
  • Fergadiotis, G., & Wright, H. H. (2011). Lexical diversity for adults with and without aphasia across discourse elicitation tasks.Aphasiology, 25, 1414–1430.
  • Fergadiotis, G., Wright, H. H., & Capilouto, G. J. (2011). Productive vocabulary across discourse types.Aphasiology, 25, 1261–1278.
  • Ferreira, V. S., & Pashler, H. (2002). Central bottleneck influences on the processing stages of word production.Journal of Experimental Psychology: Learning, Memory, and Cognition, 28, 1187–1199.
  • Fromm, D., Forbes, M., Holland, A., & MacWhinney, B. (2013, May–June). PWAs and PBJs: Language for describing a simple procedure. Poster presented at the Clinical Aphasiology Conference, Tucson, AZ.
  • Goodglass, H., & Menn, L. (1985). Is agrammatism a unitary phenomenon.In M.-L. Kean (Ed.), Agrammatism (pp. 1–26). New York, NY: Academic Press.
  • Halliday, M. A. K., & Hasan, R. (1976). Cohesion in English. London, United Kingdom: Longman.
  • Hartsuiker, R. J., & Barkhuysen, P. N. (2006). Language production and working memory: The case of subject–verb agreement.Language and Cognitive Processes, 21, 181–204.
  • Kavé, G., Samuel-Enoch, K., & Adiv, S. (2009). The association between age and the frequency of nouns selected for production.Psychology and Aging, 24, 17–27.
  • Kertesz, A. (2006). Western Aphasia Battery–Revised. New York, NY: Pearson.
  • Kong, A. P.-H. (2009). The use of main concept analysis to measure discourse production in Cantonese-speaking persons with aphasia: A preliminary report.Journal of Communication Disorders, 42, 442–464.
  • Kong, A. P.-H. (2011). Family members' report on speech-language pathology and community services for persons with aphasia in Hong Kong.Disability and Rehabilitation, 33, 2633–2645.
  • Larfeuil, C., & Le Dorze, G. (1997). An analysis of the word-finding difficulties and of the content of the discourse of recent and chronic aphasic speakers.Aphasiology, 11, 783–811.
  • MacWhinney, B., Fromm, D., Holland, A., Forbes, M., & Wright, H. (2010). Automated analysis of the Cinderella story.Aphasiology, 24, 856–868.
  • Marini, A., Andreetta, S., del Tin, S., & Carlomagno, S. (2011). A multi-level approach to the analysis of narrative language in aphasia.Aphasiology, 25, 1372–1392.
  • Mayer, J., & Murray, L. (2003). Functional measures of naming in aphasia: Word retrieval in confrontation naming versus connected speech.Aphasiology, 17, 481–497.
  • Menn, L., Reilly, K. F., Hayashi, M., Kamio, A., Fujita, I., & Sasanuma, S. (1998). The interaction of preserved pragmatics and impaired syntax in Japanese and English aphasic speech.Brain and Language, 61, 183–225.
  • Newman, M. L., Groom, C. J., Handelman, L. D., & Pennebaker, J. W. (2008). Gender differences in language use: An analysis of 14,000 text samples.Discourse Processes, 45, 211–236.
  • Nicholas, L. E., & Brookshire, R. H. (1993a). A system for quantifying the informativeness and efficiency of the connected speech of adults with aphasia.Journal of Speech and Hearing Research, 36, 338–350.
  • Nicholas, L. E., & Brookshire, R. H. (1993b). A system for scoring main concepts in the discourse of non-brain-damaged and aphasic speakers.Clinical Aphasiology Conference, 21, 87–99.
  • Nicholas, L. E., & Brookshire, R. H. (1995). Presence, completeness, and accuracy of main concepts in the connected speech of non-brain-damaged adults and adults with aphasia.Journal of Speech and Hearing Research, 38, 145–156.
  • Olness, G. S., Ulatowska, H. K., Wertz, R. T., Thompson, J. L., & Auther, L. L. (2002). Discourse elicitation with pictorial stimuli in African Americans and Caucasians with and without aphasia.Aphasiology, 16, 623–633.
  • Owens, R. E., Jr. (2008). Language development: An introduction (7th ed.). New York, NY: Pearson.
  • Richardson, J. D., & Dalton, S. G. (2015). Main concepts for three different discourse tasks in a large non-clinical sample.Aphasiology, 1–29. doi:10.1080/02687038.2015.1057891
  • Ross, K. B., & Wertz, R. T. (1999). Comparison of impairment and disability measures for assessing severity of, and improvement in, aphasia.Aphasiology, 13, 113–124.
  • Sherratt, S. (2007). Multi‐level discourse analysis: A feasible approach.Aphasiology, 21, 375–393.
  • Simmons-Mackie, N., Threats, T. T., & Kagan, A. (2005). Outcome assessment in aphasia: A survey.Journal of Communication Disorders, 38, 1–27.
  • Singh, S. (2001). A pilot study on gender differences in conversational speech on lexical richness measures.Literary & Linguistic Computing, 16, 251–264.
  • Ulatowska, H. K., North, A. J., & Macaluso-Haynes, S. (1981). Production of narrative and procedural discourse in aphasia.Brain and Language, 13, 345–371.
  • Ulatowska, H. K., Olness, G. S., Wertz, R. T., Samson, A. M., Keebler, M. W., & Goins, K. E. (2003). Relationship between discourse and Western Aphasia Battery performance in African Americans with aphasia.Aphasiology, 17, 511–521.
  • Verhaegen, C., & Poncelet, M. (2013). Changes in naming and semantic abilities with aging from 50 to 90 years.Journal of the International Neuropsychological Society, 19, 119–126.
  • Verna, A., Davidson, B., & Rose, T. (2009). Speech-language pathology services for people with aphasia: A survey of current practice in Australia.International Journal of Speech-Language Pathology, 11, 191–205.
  • Wright, H. H., & Capilouto, G. J. (2012). Considering a multi-level approach to understanding maintenance of global coherence in adults with aphasia.Aphasiology, 26, 656–672.
  • Wright, H. H., Capilouto, G. J., Wagovich, S. A., Cranfill, T. B., & Davis, J. E. (2005). Development and reliability of a quantitative measure of adults' narratives.Aphasiology, 19, 263–273.
  • Wright, H. H., & Fergadiotis, G. (2012). Conceptualising and measuring working memory and its relationship to aphasia.Aphasiology, 26, 258–278.
  • Yorkston, K. M., & Beukelman, D. R. (1980). An analysis of connected speech samples of aphasic and normal speakers.Journal of Speech and Hearing Disorders, 45, 27–36.

Additional Resources