Presented Simple Words

Disturbances affecting auditory comprehension of simple words have been attributed to impairments of semantic concepts, as discussed previously, and/or to an inability to recognize spoken words. The latter disturbances have, in turn, been thought to have two possible origins: disturbances affecting the recognition of phonemes in the acoustic signal and disturbances affecting the ability to recognize words despite good acoustic-phonetic processing.

Disturbances of acoustic-phonetic processing may affect the ability to discriminate or to identify phonemes. It is unclear, however, whether these disturbances lead to problems in recognizing or understanding spoken words. Several studies suggest that they do, but other researchers have found weak correlations between comprehension capacities and phoneme discrimination capacities in language-impaired patients.

Many researchers believe that patients can have disturbances of spoken word recognition despite good acoustic-phonetic processing. Such a disturbance was originally postulated by Carl Wernicke. However, there is no clear case of a patient who has intact acoustic-phonetic processing and who cannot recognize spoken words. In most cases, single-word comprehension problems are probably multifactorial in origin and result from a complex interaction of acoustic-phonetic disturbances, disturbances in recognizing spoken words, and disturbances affecting word meanings.



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