Narrative comprehension: Is there a difference between patients with left versus right hemisphere damage?
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Introduction: The current study investigates the facility of different causes of deficits in narrative comprehension in patients due to left versus right hemisphere brain damage (LHD, RHD). Based on the observation that both impairments, LHD as well as RHD, manifest in bad story comprehension, although only LHD is known to generate aphasia, different mechanisms underlying their respective comprehension disorders are suggested. Whereas LHD patients´ problems seem to arise from a language deficit, RHD patients might offer a general deficit in situation model building. Thus aphasic patients due to LHD should be able to understand a story, when the presentation mode is non-verbal, e.g. silent movie. Opposite to them, RHD patients should have problems in either respective presentation mode, verbal and non-verbal. The study relies theoretically on the assumptions of the situation model and narrative shifts. Method: Two patients with LHD are compared to two patients with RHD and to individually matched controls. Every participant listened to four spoken stories (verbal presentation mode) first, and afterwards watched four silent movies (non-verbal presentation mode) from the series of Mr. Bean. In both presentation modes participants were implicitly asked to identify narrative shifts in order to find out, if they were able to build a situation model during story comprehension. Results: Due to the small amount of participants, only trends could be seen regarding differences in narrative comprehension between LHD and RHD patients. LHD patients tend to identify only few shifts, whereas the RHD patients acted comparable to the control participants regarding the shift-behavior. In all patients the verbal presentation mode seemed to have an advanced benefit compared to the non-verbal presentation mode. Conclusion: This study could neither confirm nor reject the proposed hypotheses. No conclusions could be drawn based on this small sample. Also the participants within one “group” differed too much from each other and the instruction seemed to be insufficient for this target group.