Mechanisms underlying anomia treatment outcomes

Tijana Simic, Craig Chambers, Tali Bitan, Steven Stewart, Devora Goldberg, Laura Laird, Carol Leonard, Elizabeth Rochon

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Treatments for anomia have demonstrated short- and long-term efficacy. However, individual outcomes can be variable, and evidence for treatment generalization is limited. We investigated whether treatment-related measures of access to- and learning of language, namely, a) responsiveness to cues, and b) during-treatment improvements in naming, are good predictors of treatment outcomes. In addition, we investigated mechanisms underlying treatment generalization. Ten adults with chronic, post-stroke aphasia received a phonological treatment for anomia three times a week for five weeks. Naming accuracy of treated and untreated words was assessed pre- and post-treatment and at four- and eight-week follow-ups. Generalization to an untrained naming task, which involved analyses of naming accuracy and speech errors, was also assessed; speech errors were analyzed according to the Interactive Activation (IA) model of word retrieval. Group analyses indicate significant improvements in naming treated compared to untreated words, at all timepoints after therapy. Additional analyses showed significant long-term improvements in naming untreated words. Initial responsiveness to cueing and early improvement emerged as significant predictors of overall pre- to post-treatment improvements in naming treated words; naming improvements made early-on in treatment were also predictive of improvements in naming of the untreated words at follow-up. Furthermore, our study is the first to demonstrate that generalization after a phonological treatment for anomia may be driven by a strengthening of lexical-phonological connections. This study provides novel insights regarding mechanisms driving anomia treatment outcomes. Understanding such mechanisms is critical to improving existing assessment practices, optimizing treatment selection and building treatment protocols that are more likely to generalize.

Original languageEnglish
Article number106048
JournalJournal of Communication Disorders
StatePublished - 1 Nov 2020

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2020 Elsevier Inc.


  • Anomia
  • Aphasia
  • Generalization
  • Repeated practice
  • Responsiveness to cues
  • Treatment

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
  • Linguistics and Language
  • Cognitive Neuroscience
  • Speech and Hearing
  • LPN and LVN


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