Maintenance Versus Transmission Deficits: The Effect of Delay on Naming Performance in Aphasia

Nadine Martin, Gary S. Dell

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


We propose that deficits in lexical retrieval can involve difficulty in transmission of activation between processing levels, or difficulty in maintaining activation. In support, we present an investigation of picture naming by persons with aphasia in which the naming response is generated after a 1 s (sec) cue to respond in one condition or a 5 s cue to respond in another. Some individuals did better after 5 s, some did worse after 5 s, and some were not impacted by the delay. It is suggested that better performance after 5 s indicates a transmission deficit and that worse performance after 5 s indicates a maintenance deficit. To support this hypothesis, we adapted the two-step semantic-phonological model of lexical retrieval (Schwartz et al., 2006) so that it can simulate the passage of time and can simulate lesions in transmission (its semantic and phonological connection strength parameters) and/or maintenance (its decay parameter). The naming error patterns after 1 and 5 s for each participant were successfully fit to the model. Persons who did better after 5 s were found to have low connection strength parameters, persons who did worse after 5 s were simulated with an increased decay rate, and persons whose performance did not differ with delay were found to have lesions of both types. Some potential theoretical and clinical implications are discussed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number406
JournalFrontiers in Human Neuroscience
StatePublished - Nov 27 2019


  • aphasia
  • naming
  • short-term memory
  • temporal processing
  • word retrieval

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuropsychology and Physiological Psychology
  • Neurology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health
  • Biological Psychiatry
  • Behavioral Neuroscience


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