Mechanisms of Discourse Comprehension Impairment After Right Hemisphere Brain Damage Suppression in Inferential Ambiguity Resolution Research Article
Research Article  |   April 01, 2001
Mechanisms of Discourse Comprehension Impairment After Right Hemisphere Brain Damage
 
Author Affiliations & Notes
  • Connie A. Tompkins
    Department of Communication Science and Disorders University Center for Social and Urban Research University of Pittsburgh Pennsylvania
  • Margaret T. Lehman-Blake
    Department of Communication Sciences and Disorders Syracuse University, NY
  • Annette Baumgaertner
    Department of Neurology University of Hamburg, Germany
  • Wiltrud Fassbinder
    Department of Communication Science and Disorders University Center for Social and Urban Research University of Pittsburgh Pennsylvania
  • Corresponding author: e-mail: tompkins@pitt.edu
Article Information
Special Populations / Attention, Memory & Executive Functions / Traumatic Brain Injury / Language / Research Articles
Research Article   |   April 01, 2001
Mechanisms of Discourse Comprehension Impairment After Right Hemisphere Brain Damage
Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research, April 2001, Vol. 44, 400-415. doi:10.1044/1092-4388(2001/033)
History: Received July 13, 2000 , Accepted November 27, 2000
 
Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research, April 2001, Vol. 44, 400-415. doi:10.1044/1092-4388(2001/033)
History: Received July 13, 2000; Accepted November 27, 2000
Web of Science® Times Cited: 28

This study examined the generality of a previous finding indicating that difficulty suppressing or inhibiting context-inappropriate interpretations is an important predictor of narrative discourse comprehension for adults with right brain damage RBD) (C. A. Tompkins, A. Baumgaertner, M. T. Lehman, & W. Fassbinder, 2000). Forty adults with RBD and 39 without brain damage listened to two-sentence stimuli and judged whether a probe word fit with the overall stimulus meaning. An ambiguous initial sentence elicited both dominant and less preferred inferences, and the second sentence resolved the ambiguity toward the initially less-likely interpretation. Probes represented the dominant inference for the first sentence and were presented at two poststimulus intervals.

Probe judgment response times indicated that neither group suppressed the eventually inappropriate inferences in the time intervals studied. However, multiple regression analysis demonstrated that for individual participants with RBD, the extent of suppression from one interval to the next was a significant predictor of performance on a specialized measure of inference comprehension. The discussion evaluates these findings and identifies directions for future research.

Acknowledgments
This work was supported in part by Grant DC01820 from the National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders. We are grateful to Tepanta Fossett and Janice Vance for their assistance with various portions of this project. We remain indebted to our patients for their interest and participation, and to HEALTHSOUTH Harmarville Rehabilitation Hospital, HEALTHSOUTH Greater Pittsburgh Rehabilitation Hospital, the Mercy Hospital of Pittsburgh, and University of Pittsburgh Medical Center for assisting with participant referrals.
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