A Method for Characterizing Semantic and Lexical Properties of Sentence Completions in Traumatic Brain Injury

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Clinical investigations of individuals with chronic stage traumatic brain injury (TBI) showing mild-to-moderate levels of residual impairment largely use standardized neuropsychological assessments to measure executive functioning. The Hayling Sentence Completion Test (HSCT) relies upon several executive functions but detects cognitive impairments across studies inconsistently. We sought to (a) further characterize sentence completions on the HSCT by quantifying their semantic and lexical properties and (b) investigate cognitive components important for HSCT performance. A sample of 108 mild-to-moderate participants with TBI underwent a comprehensive neuropsychological assessment that evaluated verbal ability, working memory, processing speed, task switching, and inhibitory control. Multiple regression analyses suggest that these 5 cognitive components differentially contribute to describing HSCT performance and measures of semantic and lexical properties of unconnected sentence completions. Across all 3 measures, verbal ability was most predictive of performance, while inhibitory control was the least predictive. Working memory capacity also predicted HSCT performance, while processing speed and task switching ability predicted lexical measures. We present a method for quantitatively measuring the semantic and lexical properties of generated words on the HSCT and how these additional measures relate to executive functions.

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