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Ivanisse Asencio-Acevedo, Sally Gallena, Ph.D.

Verb Retrieval After Modified Pictographic VNeST© Protocol in Adults with Non-Fluent Aphasia

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Aphasia is an acquired disorder resulting from damage to the parts of the brain that contain language. This causes deficits in language expression and comprehension that are treated by speech-language pathologists (SLPs). Hallmark characteristics of aphasia include word retrieval deficits (being unable to recall the desired word) and difficulty reading and writing. Consequently, this affects communication between the person with aphasia (PWA) and their conversational partner. Several treatment strategies have been devised to facilitate conversation for the PWA, however they have been weakly researched. Research regarding the multimedia effect (use of visual supports to efficiently learn and get across information) and supported conversation with aphasia model has shown to improve comprehension in PWA by conveying information in multiple modalities. This approach has been especially helpful for retrieving nouns. Current research regarding verb-retrieval approaches has revealed the Verb Network Strengthening Treatment (VNeST)© as an effective approach with evidence of generalization to untrained verb stimuli. VNeST© was designed for PWA to improve verb retrieval by creating a network of words associated with the verb targeted. The protocol is based on the idea that creating a thematic role around a trained verb will consequently activate world and semantic knowledge using a basic sentence structure. However, the VNeST© protocol relies on written words, rather than pictures, to convey stimuli information. Based on the multimedia effect and supported conversation with aphasia model, the aim of this study is to determine the effects of verb retrieval with the incorporation of pictographic representations (i.e. non-detailed pictures) in the VNeST© protocol.

A randomized, controlled, experimental between and within group design will be conducted with persons with aphasia caused by stroke. Inclusion criteria for participants include: (a) diagnosis of aphasia based on the WAB–R (Kertesz, 2006), (b) monolingual English speaking, (c) right-handedness prior to stroke, and (d) negative history of diagnosed learning disorder or drug or alcohol addiction. Participants will be matched and randomly assigned to the experimental or control group. The control group will receive the traditional VNeST© treatment protocol and the experimental group will receive the modified VNeST© protocol. Participants will receive treatment biweekly for 10 weeks at the Loyola Clinical Center in Columbia, MD. Pretreatment and posttreatment measurement for lexical retrieval of verbs will be assessed with the Object and Action Naming Battery (OANB) (Druks & Masterson, 2000). Results and impressions will be discussed.


Kerstesz, A. (2006). Western Aphasia Battery–Revised. Austin, TX: Pro-Ed.

Druks, J., & Masterson, J. (2000). An Object and Action Naming Battery. Hove, England: Psychogy Press

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