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Story Comprehension by Adults with Right Hemisphere Brain Damage

Intintoli, Jessica L (2009) Story Comprehension by Adults with Right Hemisphere Brain Damage. Undergraduate Thesis, University of Pittsburgh. (Unpublished)

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Background: Right hemisphere brain damage (RHD) manifests itself in many ways. The repercussions affecting language function are distinct; studies in discourse comprehension in RHD groups suggest that this population struggles with the mental structures necessary for processing, leading to difficulty when a task requires that participants modify their established mental models or alter first interpretations. The current investigation was based on an experiment in Rapp et al.'s (2001) study that suggests that trait-based models of discourse processing affect online reading. Participants' response times slowed when the final sentences of the story stimuli were inconsistent with character traits instantiated in the beginning of the stories.Aims: The current study examined the nature of discourse comprehension difficulties in adults with right hemisphere brain damage, specifically observing how participants with RHD performed in accuracy and response times when presented stories with inconsistencies in character trait portrayal.Methods and Procedures: Participants included eight adults with RHD and five with no brain damage (NBD). Participants listened to 20 stimuli featuring either a neutral or trait-instantiating first portion (describing a specific trait of a character), followed by a trait-consistent or trait-inconsistent final sentence. Asked to make a rapid judgment concerning whether the final sentence of each story fit with the personality of the character featured in that story, the subjects chose "yes" or "no" on a manual response box. Ancillary tasks were used to assist in classifying the clinical characteristics of participants and to provide potential alternative interpretations of participants' performances.Outcomes and Results: The results of this study suggest that when character traits are strongly negative and/or strongly implied, adults with RHD appear to incorporate these character biases in their narrative processing, though these biases do not improve their judgments of trait-inconsistent information. As predicted, there were no group differences in trait-instantiating stories with the trait-consistent endings, but the participants with RHD were less accurate in the trait-inconsistent condition than the group with NBD. Supporting the study's main hypothesis, results indicate that adults with RHD are as able as control participants to accurately judge trait-consistent information, but are at a disadvantage when dealing with incongruity.


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Item Type: University of Pittsburgh ETD
Status: Unpublished
CreatorsEmailPitt UsernameORCID
Intintoli, Jessica
ETD Committee:
TitleMemberEmail AddressPitt UsernameORCID
Committee ChairTompkins, Connie Atompkins@pitt.eduTOMPKINS
Committee MemberRapp, David
Committee MemberVance, Janice Ejvance@pitt.eduJVANCE
Committee MemberDickey, Michael Wmdickey@pitt.eduMDICKEY
Date: 30 April 2009
Date Type: Completion
Defense Date: 13 April 2009
Approval Date: 30 April 2009
Submission Date: 22 April 2009
Access Restriction: No restriction; Release the ETD for access worldwide immediately.
Institution: University of Pittsburgh
Schools and Programs: Dietrich School of Arts and Sciences > Communication Science and Disorders
David C. Frederick Honors College
Degree: BPhil - Bachelor of Philosophy
Thesis Type: Undergraduate Thesis
Refereed: Yes
Uncontrolled Keywords: character; language; stroke; trait
Other ID:, etd-04222009-181659
Date Deposited: 10 Nov 2011 19:41
Last Modified: 15 Nov 2016 13:41


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