Inferencing Processes After Right Hemisphere Brain Damage: Effects of Contextual Bias

Blake, Margaret Lehman
April 2009
Journal of Speech, Language & Hearing Research;Apr2009, Vol. 52 Issue 2, p373
Academic Journal
Purpose: Comprehension deficits associated with right hemisphere brain damage (RHD) have been attributed to an inability to use context, but there is little direct evidence to support the claim. This study evaluated the effect of varying contextual bias on predictive inferencing by adults with RHD. Method: Fourteen adults with no brain damage (NBD) and 14 with RHD read stories constructed with either high predictability or low predictability of a specific outcome. Reading time for a sentence that disconfirmed the target outcome was measured and compared with a control story context. Results: Adults with RHD evidenced activation of predictive inferences only for highly predictive conditions, whereas NBD adults generated inferences in both high- and low-predictability stories. Adults with RHD were more likely than those with NBD to require additional time to integrate inferences in high-predictability conditions. The latter finding was related to working memory for the RHD group. Results are interpreted in light of previous findings obtained using the same stimuli. Conclusions: RHD does not abolish the ability to use context. Evidence of predictive inferencing is influenced by task and strength of inference activation. Treatment considerations and cautions regarding interpreting results from one methodology are discussed.


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