Narratives of focal brain injured individuals: A macro-level analysis

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Abstract

Focal brain injury can have detrimental effects on the pragmatics of communication. This study examined narrative production by unilateral brain damaged people (n=36) and healthy controls and focused on the complexity (content and coherence) and the evaluative aspect of their narratives to test the general hypothesis that the left hemisphere is biased to process microlinguistic information and the right hemisphere is biased to process macrolinguistic information. We found that people with left hemisphere damage's (LHD) narratives were less likely to maintain the overall theme of the story and produced fewer evaluative comments in their narratives. These deficits correlated with their performances on microlinguistic linguistic tasks. People with the right hemisphere damage (RHD) seemed to be preserved in expressing narrative complexity and evaluations as a group. Yet, single case analyses revealed that particular regions in the right hemisphere such as damage to the dorsolateral prefrontal cortex (DLPFC), the anterior and superior temporal gyrus, the middle temporal gyrus, and the supramarginal gyrus lead to problems in creating narratives. Our findings demonstrate that both hemispheres are necessary to produce competent narrative production. LHD people's poor production is related to their microlinguistic language problems whereas RHD people's impaired abilities can be associated with planning and working memory abilities required to relate events in a narrative.

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