Mechanisms of Discourse Comprehension Impairment After Right Hemisphere Brain Damage Suppression in Lexical Ambiguity Resolution Research Article
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Research Article  |   February 01, 2000
Mechanisms of Discourse Comprehension Impairment After Right Hemisphere Brain Damage
 
Author Affiliations & Notes
  • Connie A. Tompkins
    Department of Communication Science and Disorders and Center for Social and Urban Research University of Pittsburgh Pittsburgh, PA
  • Annette Baumgaertner
    Department of Communication Science and Disorders and Center for Social and Urban Research University of Pittsburgh Pittsburgh, PA
  • Margaret T. Lehman
    Department of Communication Science and Disorders and Center for Social and Urban Research University of Pittsburgh Pittsburgh, PA
  • Wiltrud Fassbinder
    Department of Communication Science and Disorders and Center for Social and Urban Research University of Pittsburgh Pittsburgh, PA
  • Corresponding author: e-mail: tompkins@csd.upmc.edu
  • Contact author: Connie A. Tompkins, PhD, Communication Science and Disorders, 4033 Forbes Tower, University of Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh, PA 15260. Email: tompkins@csd.upmc.edu
Article Information
Special Populations / Research Issues, Methods & Evidence-Based Practice / Normal Language Processing / Attention, Memory & Executive Functions / Traumatic Brain Injury / Language / Research Articles
Research Article   |   February 01, 2000
Mechanisms of Discourse Comprehension Impairment After Right Hemisphere Brain Damage
Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research, February 2000, Vol. 43, 62-78. doi:10.1044/jslhr.4301.62
History: Received December 12, 1998 , Accepted July 7, 1999
 
Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research, February 2000, Vol. 43, 62-78. doi:10.1044/jslhr.4301.62
History: Received December 12, 1998; Accepted July 7, 1999

Normal comprehension skill is linked with the proficiency of a suppression mechanism, which functions to dampen mental activation that becomes irrelevant or inappropriate to a final interpretation. This study investigated suppression and discourse comprehension in adults with right brain damage (RBD). To index suppression function, 40 adults with RBD and 40 without brain damage listened to sentence stimuli that biased the meaning of a sentence-final lexical ambiguity (e.g., SPADE), then judged whether a probe word (e.g., CARDS) fit the overall sentence meaning. Probes represented the contextually inappropriate meanings of the ambiguities and were presented in two conditions: 175 ms and 1000 ms poststimulus. The same probes were used with unambiguous comparison stimuli. Probe judgment response times indicated that only the group without brain damage suppressed inappropriate interpretations over time. In a multiple regression analysis, suppression function added significantly to predicting performance on a general measure of narrative discourse comprehension for participants with RBD. The discussion addresses how suppression deficits may account more broadly for comprehension difficulties after RBD; it also considers several unresolved issues concerning the suppression construct and the suppression deficit hypothesis.

Acknowledgments
This work was supported in part by Grant DC01820 from the National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders. We are grateful to Morti Gernsbacher for providing her original stimulus lists and for periodic consultation. Tepanta Fossett, Emily Krohn, Janice Vance, and Lisa Zipin contributed invaluable assistance to various parts of this project. Finally, we are indebted to our patients for their continued interest and participation and to local hospitals and rehabilitation centers for their help in identifying and recruiting participants (HealthSouth Harmarville Rehabilitation Hospital, HealthSouth Rehabilitation Hospital of Greater Pittsburgh, Mercy Hospital of Pittsburgh, and the Presbyterian-University Medical Center).
This journal’s strict page limitation policy necessitated the deletion of important detail regarding rationales, experimental validation, methods, and results. More complete information is available upon request from the first author.
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