Traumatized Broca’s Area A Linguistic Analysis of Speech in Posttraumatic Stress Disorder
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This research explores the possible effects of Posttraumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) on the speech capacity of individuals diagnosed with PTSD. Past research (Peres et al., 2005) concluded that there are difficulties in synthesizing, categorizing and integrating the trauma memory into a narrative. Furthermore it has been shown that participants diagnosed with PTSD exhibit decreased rCBF (regional Cerebral Blood Flow) to the Broca’s area when they are either verbally (Rauch et al., 1996; Shin et al., 1997) or visually (Shin & McNally et al., 1997) exposed to their trauma. Since Broca’s aphasics also exhibit rCBF to the Broca’s area, the effect of reduced blood flow in these two very different patient groups was compared in order to find out if the speech of individuals with PTSD shows characteristics and similarities to the speech of Broca’s aphasics. Two speech samples, a neutral speech sample and a ‘traumatic’ speech sample, were collected from five PTSD participants and five Trauma Exposed Control (TEC) participants. Additionally five speech samples of Broca’s Aphasics were obtained from the AphasiaBank (MacWhinney et al., 2011). These samples were investigated linguistically by calculating a percentage of omissions of functional categories and omissions of inflections, as well as the calculation of the Zipfian Distribution. Although the results show no significant differences in the slope of the Zipfian Distribution for PTSD participant’s ‘neutral’ and ‘traumatic’ speech, there is a trend that can be observed in the expected direction. This opens up questions about the successful elicitation of traumatic memories; effects of the importance of sample size and token count in a Zipfian analysis; and our assumptions about the nature of the blood flow to the Broca’s area as well as the location of the functions within that area.