The processing of nonverbal auditory stimuli has not yet been sufficiently investigated in patients with aphasia. On the basis of a duration discrimination task, we examined whether patients with left-sided cerebrovascular lesions were able to perceive time differences in the scale of approximately 150 ms. Further linguistic and memory-related tasks were used to characterize more exactly the relationships in the performances between auditory nonverbal task and selective linguistic or mnemonic disturbances. All examined conduction aphasics showed increased thresholds in the duration discrimination task. The low thresholds on this task were in a strong correlative relation to the reduced performances in repetition and working memory task. This was interpreted as an indication of a pronounced disturbance in integrating auditory verbal information into a long-term window (sampling disturbance) resulting in an additional load of working memory. In order to determine the lesion topography of patients with sampling disturbances, the anatomical and psychophysical data were correlated on the basis of a voxelwise statistical approach. It was found that tissue damage extending through the insula, the posterior superior temporal gyrus, and the supramarginal gyrus causes impairments in sequencing of time-sensitive information.
Keywords: brain lesions; conduction aphasia; lesion studies; processing of auditory nonverbal stimuli; speech pathology; speech perception.