DementiaBank English PPA Menn Corpus

Lise Menn
University of Colorado

Participants: 1
Type of Study: Longitudinal
Location: USA
Media type: video
DOI: doi:10.21415/KQGV-B082

Browsable Database

Downloadable Transcripts

Downloadable Video

Citation information

Christopher M. Filley, Gail Ramsberger, Lise Menn, Jiang Wu, Bessie Y. Reid, & Allen L. Reid. (2006). Primary Progressive Aphasia in a Bilingual Woman. Neurocase 12:296-299.

Christopher M. Filley, Gail Ramsberger, Lise Menn, Jiang Wu, Bessie Y. Reid, & Allen L. Reid. (2011). Longitudinal Output Changes in a Case of Atypical Bilingual PPA. Poster, Academy of Aphasia, Montreal, October 16, 2011.

Hilger, Alison, Philip Gilley, Gail Ramsberger, Anthony Pak-Hin Kong, Lise Menn & Pui-Fong Kan. (2012). Capturing Sound Errors in Aphasic Narration: A Supplement to Existing Measures of Narrative Quality. Poster, Academy of Aphasia, San Francisco, Oct 30, 2012.

Hilger, Alison, Gail Ramsberger, Phillip Gilley, Lise Menn, Anthony Pak-Hin Kong. (2014). Analysing speech problems in a longitudinal case study of logopenic variant PPA. Aphasiology 28, 840-861.

Menn, Lise, Anthony Pak Hin Kong, Alison Hilger, Gail Ramsberger, Yushu Yan. (2011). How Language Type Affects Aphasia Type. Presentation for the symposium “Dementia and Progressive Aphasia Among Bilingual Speakers”, organized by Brendan S. Weekes. International Symposium on Bilingualism 8, Oslo, June 2011.

Ramsberger, Gail, Anthony Pak Hin Kong, and Lise Menn. (2014.) Speech deterioration in an English-Shanghainese Speaker with Logopenic Variant Primary Progressive Aphasia. Academy of Aphasia, Orlando, FL, October 5-7. Abstract published on-line Aug 2014. (abstract) ABS_DOI=10.3389/conf.fpsyg.2014.64.00019

Publications making use of these data should cite one of the above references.

Project Description

These data and analyses cover the entire period (2004-2007) of the University of Colorado team’s work with Bessie Yang Reid (BYR), a remarkable multilingual woman with Primary Progressive Aphasia (PPA), as well as the series of resulting publications, which continued until 2014.

Bessie contacted Profs. Gail Ramsberger (Speech, Language, and Hearings Sciences) and Lise Menn (Linguistics) in late 2004, after her aphasia was diagnosed; she had obtained our names and contact information from the Academy of Aphasia. We asked Dr. Jiang (Joy) Wu (native speaker of Mandarin, acquainted with Shanghai Chinese = Shanghainese, Ph.D. in Speech, Language, & Hearing Science) to join our research team.

At Bessie’s request and with the active participation of her husband Allan L. Reid, we followed her declining language and cognitive abilities until she could no longer respond to test questions. We also referred her to cognitive neurologist Christopher Filley, M.D., who immediately joined the team and followed her neurological progression. Alison Hilger (M.A. linguistics) became the principal research assistant on the project, and completed a second M.A. in speech language pathology under Prof. Ramsberger with a thesis on phonological aspects of the data.

The Chinese language half of this project was principally carried out by Dr. Anthony Kong (native speaker of Hong Kong Mandarin, now of Hong Kong University), who supervised University of Colorado graduate students Vicky Lai (native speaker of Taiwanese Mandarin, then a linguistics Ph.D. student), and Yushu Yan (a native speaker of Shanghai Mandarin, then an M.A. student in East Asian studies), as well as several members of the local Shanghai Chinese community. Jill Duffield, then a linguistics doctoral student and a second-language speaker of Mandarin, also assisted in organizing these materials.

Bessie’s case is clinically notable because of the largely phonological character of her speech problems in the earlier years of her disease, which gave it the quality of Conduction Aphasia in the Boston classification. The team analyzed eight successive sets of Chinese and English Cookie Theft Picture narratives in Shanghainese and English over 20 months from spring 2005 through fall 2006, using the Cantonese Linguistic Communication Measure (CLCM, Kong & Law, 2003, 2004) and the Linguistic Communication Measure (Menn, Ramsberger, & Helm-Estabrooks 1994), with a focus on Bessie’s conspicuous speech production problems. Self-correction patterns show that she was acutely aware of her word-finding and phonetic problems, but not of her morphological errors (this might be due to first language influence, but that is impossible to check). Tense and aspect (bound and free) and pluralization got worse over time, as did her difficulty in getting words out because of her phonological production problem. Her word order in later sessions probably seems worse because of increasing abandoned structures, which in turn are probably due to word finding and word production difficulties.

Although BYR’s BDAE language profiles in English and Chinese were similar (Filley, Ramsberger, Menn, Wu, Reid, & Reid 2006), the contrasting phonological and morphological structures of English and Chinese have strong effects.

Some of the later videotaped interviews are notable for the way in which Bessie and Allan collaborated harmoniously in telling her story when she could no longer do it alone (see the sub-folder ‘Abo Short Course’ in the folder ‘Presentations by team members’).

Bessie died from her brain disease in 2009, and her husband died in 2011. Both of them hoped that these materials would be used for teaching and research on PPA.

Bessie Yang was born in Shanghai to a fairly wealthy and somewhat Westernized family. She was educated in an English-speaking Catholic school, and then won a scholarship for further study of music in Ireland. After her studies there, she moved to Hong Kong and taught music in a girls’ school until she decided she wanted a more adventurous life; she became a stewardess (flight attendant) for Hong Kong Airways, and met Allan Reid, the head of Asian sales for a major American publisher, when he was her passenger. They married and settled in the U.S., where she held various highly responsible positions. She tells much of her own story in the book ‘Daddy’s Concubines and Me’. We include her CV, obituary, and the flyers from the memorial services .

Test Results

Please read this document before looking for information in Also look over the contents of the 'BYR test design' and 'tests' subfolders.

The first (informal, exploratory) session with BYR was on December 3rd, 2004, a few months after she first asked Profs. Ramsberger and Menn to study her language problems. There followed three formal testing sessions in 2005 (March 27, August 17th, and December 19th), two testing sessions in 2006 (April 22 and September 30th), and a final session on March 4th, 2007, when formal testing was no longer possible due to BYR’s deterioration.

Administration of the tests, both standardized (e.g. Boston Naming Test, Boston Diagnostic Aphasia Examination) and non-standardized (e.g. our Chinese adaptations of those tests, BYR’s personal ‘Romance’ and ‘Dog’ narratives, and other test tasks created for our research study) was mostly recorded on tape, with responses scored on paper in real time. The paper files have been sent to TalkBank for use by researchers. Because most of the testing was videotaped, especially the subtests which required oral responses, the actual errors in both English and Chinese can be transcribed, classified, and studied.

Electronic files labeled with DONE.xls already have complete scoring and fully transcribed responses. However, many tests that were recorded on tape have not been scored as of this writing; some of the files in the ‘Data-test results’ folder are only empty scoring templates. For example, the transcription and scoring of the successive administrations of the Boston Naming Test are complete across the longitudinal study, but many parts of the successive BDAE tests are not. Some scores that are not in this folder can be obtained from the group’s two published research papers, which have been uploaded to DementiaBank. The group’s bibliography is listed at the end of this READ ME, for your convenience.

Before beginning any work based on these data, please check to see whether the information you plan to use is actually available or whether you will need to do some of the transcribing and scoring from the videos. If you will need to work from the videos, make sure that what you want from them is actually audible and visible.

Not every test or subtest was given on every testing occasion. We became wary of repeating the same test too often over time, so we tried to alternate giving some tests across the sessions. Tasks that were evidently too difficult were usually stopped in the middle, to reduce BYR’s frustration and unhappiness. In addition, over the course of the study, she became more and more susceptible to fatigue, so we sometimes had to stop before we did all that we had planned.