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Effect of familiar content on paragraph comprehension in aphasia

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Background: Previous research has shown that context improves aphasic individuals' auditory comprehension. The specific contextual information that has been identified as beneficial includes semantic constraints, semantic plausibility, both predictive and non-predictive information, and familiar topics. However, context can also include familiar content such as the names of relatives, friends, local schools, and local stores. Aims: The purpose of the present study was to assess the influence of familiar content on comprehension in individuals with aphasia. Specifically, it assessed whether individuals with aphasia answer questions about paragraphs more accurately when the paragraphs contain familiar content than when they do not. Methods & Procedures: Eleven participants with aphasia and eleven participants without brain damage listened to short paragraphs that differed in the familiarity of the content included. In half of the paragraphs, the people and places were generic and not known specifically by the participants. In the other half, the people and places were known by the participants (as provided by a spouse or other close individual). Approximately half of the subsequent questions asked of the participants related to this targeted information and half related to other, more generic, information in the paragraphs. Outcomes & Results: The questions relating to the paragraphs with the familiar content were answered more accurately than were the questions relating to the paragraphs with neutral content. For the participants with aphasia, this result occurred for the questions relating to both the targeted (and thus familiar) information and the non-targeted or neutral information. The extent to which each participant with aphasia benefited from the familiar content did not relate to age, education, time-post-onset, or comprehension and naming skills. Conclusions: These results suggest that familiar content may be another type of context that enhances comprehension skills in individuals with aphasia. The results are interpreted with respect to attention and domain knowledge concepts.

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: 1: Kent State University, Kent, OH 2: Westminster Thurber Community Nursing Home, Columbus, OH 3: Breckenridge Village Nursing Home, Willoughby, OH

Publication date: December 1, 2007


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