Selective deficit of second language: A case study of a brain-damaged Arabic-Hebrew bilingual patient

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Background: An understanding of how two languages are represented in the human brain is best obtained from studies of bilingual patients who have sustained brain damage. The primary goal of the present study was to determine whether one or both languages of an Arabic-Hebrew bilingual individual are disrupted following brain damage. I present a case study of a bilingual patient, proficient in Arabic and Hebrew, who had sustained brain damage as a result of an intracranial hemorrhage related to herpes encephalitis. Methods: The patient's performance on several linguistic tasks carried out in the first language (Arabic) and in the second language (Hebrew) was assessed, and his performance in the two languages was compared. Results: The patient displayed somewhat different symptomatologies in the two languages. The results revealed dissociation between the two languages in terms of both the types and the magnitude of errors, pointing to aphasic symptoms in both languages, with Hebrew being the more impaired. Further analysis disclosed that this dissociation was apparently caused not by damage to his semantic system, but rather by damage at the lexical level. Conclusion: The results suggest that the principles governing the organization of lexical representations in the brain are not similar for the two languages.

Original languageEnglish
Article number17
JournalBehavioral and Brain Functions
StatePublished - 12 Mar 2009

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cognitive Neuroscience
  • Biological Psychiatry
  • Behavioral Neuroscience


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