Verbal Perseveration in Aphasia: Definitions and Clinical Phenomena From a Historical Perspective Perseveration, and in particular verbal perseveration, has been defined in various ways depending on the perspective of the investigator. A widely accepted definition is that perseveration is the inappropriate recurrence or uncontrolled repetition of a previously produced response—phoneme, word, syntactic structure, semantic feature, idea, and the like—in place of the ... Article
Article  |   December 01, 2011
Verbal Perseveration in Aphasia: Definitions and Clinical Phenomena From a Historical Perspective
Author Affiliations & Notes
  • Jacqueline Stark
    Department of Linguistics and Communication Research, Austrian Academy of SciencesVienna, Austria
  • Jacqueline Stark, PhD, is senior researcher for the Department of Linguistics and Communication Research of the Austrian Academy of Sciences and head of research for the projects in the area of neurolinguistics and aphasia. She is president of the Association Internationale Aphasie (AIA) and founder and head of the self-help group, Aphasia-Club, in Vienna. She is the developer and producer of the ELA Photo Series and accompanying products.
    Jacqueline Stark, PhD, is senior researcher for the Department of Linguistics and Communication Research of the Austrian Academy of Sciences and head of research for the projects in the area of neurolinguistics and aphasia. She is president of the Association Internationale Aphasie (AIA) and founder and head of the self-help group, Aphasia-Club, in Vienna. She is the developer and producer of the ELA Photo Series and accompanying products.×
Article Information
Articles
Article   |   December 01, 2011
Verbal Perseveration in Aphasia: Definitions and Clinical Phenomena From a Historical Perspective
SIG 2 Perspectives on Neurophysiology and Neurogenic Speech and Language Disorders, December 2011, Vol. 21, 135-151. doi:10.1044/nnsld21.4.135
SIG 2 Perspectives on Neurophysiology and Neurogenic Speech and Language Disorders, December 2011, Vol. 21, 135-151. doi:10.1044/nnsld21.4.135

Perseveration, and in particular verbal perseveration, has been defined in various ways depending on the perspective of the investigator. A widely accepted definition is that perseveration is the inappropriate recurrence or uncontrolled repetition of a previously produced response—phoneme, word, syntactic structure, semantic feature, idea, and the like—in place of the correct target item.

Verbal perseveration has a long history in aphasiology research. Reading the classical papers on the topic is essential to gaining a basic understanding of perseverative language behavior. A survey of the classical literature on perseveration reveals three explanations of the nature of the underlying deficit that results in perseveration. It will be shown that many current concepts were actually posited in the classical aphasiology publications as early as 1879.

A very nice illustration to this topic was provided by a paralytic patient of Abraham, whom I observed together with him. He had almost colossal perseveration. Instead of all the requested words to be written down, once he produced the word “tongue” (= “Zunge”), which he also produced in response to any other word to be repeated. When I wrote down a 3 in front of him with the request for him to copy it, he added to my 3 ‘unge’ making it Zunge (as he considered my 3 to be a Z, which of course in writing is similar to Z in German). One sees here clearly, that not the movement itself got stuck, but rather the inner word form. (Liepmann, 1905, pp. 120–121)

Acknowledgment
Particular thanks go to Dr. Hsu Chieh of Academy Computing Center of the Austrian Academy of Sciences for her realization of the various theories on perseveration in diagram form from my pencil drawing. I would also like to thank Nadine Martin, Maria Muñoz, Christiane Pons, Heinz Karl Stark, and Jennee Stark for their constructive comments on versions of this paper.
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