Clinical Relevance of Discourse Characteristics After Right Hemisphere Brain Damage Purpose Discourse characteristics of adults with right hemisphere brain damage are similar to those reported for healthy older adults, prompting the question of whether changes are due to neurological lesions or normal aging processes. The clinical relevance of potential differences across groups was examined through ratings by speech-language pathologists. ... Research Article
Research Article  |   August 01, 2006
Clinical Relevance of Discourse Characteristics After Right Hemisphere Brain Damage
 
Author Affiliations & Notes
  • Margaret Lehman Blake
    University of Houston, Houston, TX
  • Contact author: Margaret Lehman Blake, Department of Communication Disorders, University of Houston, 4505 Cullen Blvd., 100 Clinical Research Center, Houston, TX 77204-6018. E-mail: mtblake@uh.edu
Article Information
Special Populations / Older Adults & Aging / Attention, Memory & Executive Functions / Traumatic Brain Injury / Research Articles
Research Article   |   August 01, 2006
Clinical Relevance of Discourse Characteristics After Right Hemisphere Brain Damage
American Journal of Speech-Language Pathology, August 2006, Vol. 15, 255-267. doi:10.1044/1058-0360(2006/024)
History: Received April 11, 2005 , Revised August 10, 2005 , Accepted March 1, 2006
 
American Journal of Speech-Language Pathology, August 2006, Vol. 15, 255-267. doi:10.1044/1058-0360(2006/024)
History: Received April 11, 2005; Revised August 10, 2005; Accepted March 1, 2006

Purpose Discourse characteristics of adults with right hemisphere brain damage are similar to those reported for healthy older adults, prompting the question of whether changes are due to neurological lesions or normal aging processes. The clinical relevance of potential differences across groups was examined through ratings by speech-language pathologists.

Method A thinking-out-loud task was used to elicit discourse from 8 individuals with right brain damage and 8 healthy older adults. Speech-language pathologists rated discourse transcripts on content and quantity variables and then classified them as belonging to a participant with or without brain damage. Subjective ratings were validated against corroborating measures.

Results Discourse produced by adults with right brain damage was rated as more tangential and egocentric than that from healthy older adults. Extreme verbosity or paucity of speech was attributed to people with right brain damage. One third of the speech-language pathologists accurately classified discourse samples according to group, whereas the others displayed biases toward one group or the other.

Conclusions Tangentiality, egocentrism, and extremes of quantity are clinically relevant characteristics of discourse produced by adults with right brain damage. Speech-language pathologists must be aware of potential biases that influence their perception of “normal” discourse production.

Acknowledgments
This study was funded by grants from the American Speech-Language-Hearing Foundation, the National Institutes of Health (Grant 1R03-DC005563-01A1), and the Pattye Sue Stephens Lebel and Jesse Loran Lebel Communication Disorders Faculty Fellowship Endowment. Thanks to Kimberly Lesniewicz for her assistance with the transcriptions and analyses.
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