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Journal Article

Production and comprehension of prosodic boundary marking in persons with unilateral brain lesions


Obrig,  Hellmuth
University Hospital Leipzig, Germany;
Department Neurology, MPI for Human Cognitive and Brain Sciences, Max Planck Society;

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de Beer, C., Hofmann, A., Regenbrecht, F., Huttenlauch, C., Wartenburger, I., Obrig, H., et al. (2022). Production and comprehension of prosodic boundary marking in persons with unilateral brain lesions. Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research, 65(12), 4774-4796. doi:10.1044/2022_JSLHR-22-00258.

Cite as: https://hdl.handle.net/21.11116/0000-000B-C6EF-9
Purpose: Persons with unilateral brain damage in the right hemisphere (RH) or left hemisphere (LH) show limitations in processing linguistic prosody, with yet inconclusive results on their ability to process prosodically marked structural boundaries for syntactic ambiguity resolution. We aimed at systematically investigating production and comprehension of three prosodic cues (f 0 range, final lengthening, and pause) at structural boundaries in coordinate sequences in participants with right hemisphere brain damage (RHDP) and participants with left hemisphere brain damage (LHDP).

Method: Twenty RHDP and 15 LHDP participated in our study. Comprehension experiment: Participants and a control group listened to coordinate name sequences with internal grouping by a prosodically marked structural boundary (grouped condition, e.g., "(Gabi und Leni) # und Nina") or without internal grouping (ungrouped condition, e.g., "Gabi und Leni und Nina") and had to identify the target condition. The strength and combinations of prosodic cues in the stimuli were manipulated. Production experiment: Participants were asked to produce coordinate sequences in the two conditions (grouped, ungrouped) in two different tasks: a Reading Aloud and a Repetition experiment. Accuracy of participants' productions was subsequently assessed in a rating study and productions were analyzed with respect to use of prosodic cues.

Results: In the Comprehension experiment, RHDP and LHDP had overall lower identification accuracies than unimpaired control participants and LHDP were found to have particular problems with boundary identification when the pause cue was reduced. In production, LHDP and RHDP employed all three prosodic cues for boundary marking, but struggled to clearly mark prosodic boundaries in 28% of all productions. Both groups showed better performance in reading aloud than in repetition. LHDP relied more on using f 0 range and pause duration to prosodically mark structural boundaries, whereas RHDP employed final lengthening more vigorously than LHDP in reading aloud.

Conclusions: We conclude that processing of linguistic prosody is affected in RHDP and LHDP, but not completely impaired. Therefore, prosody can serve as a relevant communicative resource. However, it should also be considered as a target area for assessment and treatment in both groups.