Limitations of Applicability of Existing Aphasia Evidence

Many limitations of the aphasia literature weaken attempts to argue in favor of differential localization of language in polyglots. First, the accounts of polyglot aphasia are highly varied in level of detail provided both about the nature of the neurological damage and about the language deficits. Indeed, many of the early reports were anecdotal or second-hand accounts. Second, only scattered information is available on the extent of patients' premorbid skills and usage in each of their languages. Third, because of the over-representation of single, selected cases in this literature, one does not have an accurate estimate of the relative incidence of the different patterns. The few studies of unselected cases seem to indicate that parallel recovery is the norm. The absence of accurate and meaningful estimates of the probabilities of occurrence of the different patterns of recovery, and their correlation with factors in the bilinguals' language acquisition use prior to insult, makes attempts to test the various models of brain organization proposed conjectural at best.

During the past two decades, more systematic assessment instruments such as Paradis' Bilingual Aphasia Test, have been developed. The BAT is now available in over 60 languages and 150 specific language pairs. It is hoped that wider use of these instruments will result in more systematic and thorough assessment of unselected cases of aphasia in bilinguals and polyglots.

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