Question use after right-hemisphere brain damage (Minga et al., 2020)

Purpose: Right-hemisphere brain damage (RHD) can affect pragmatic aspects of communication that may contribute to an impaired ability to gather information. Questions are an explicit means of gathering information. Question types vary in terms of the demands they place on cognitive resources. The purpose of this exploratory descriptive study is to test the hypothesis that adults with RHD differ from neurologically healthy adults in the types of questions asked during a structured task.
Method: Adults who sustained a single right-hemisphere stroke and neurologically healthy controls from the RHDBank Database completed the Unfamiliar Object Task of the RHDBank Discourse Protocol (Minga et al., 2016). Each task was video-recorded. Questions were transcribed using the Codes for the Human Analysis of Transcripts format. Coding and analysis of each response were conducted using Computerized Language Analysis (MacWhinney, 2000) programs.
Results: The types of questions used differed significantly across groups, with the RHD group using significantly more content questions and significantly fewer polar questions than the neurologically healthy control group. In their content question use, adults with RHD used significantly more “what” questions than other question subtypes.
Conclusion: Question-asking is an important aspect of pragmatic communication. Differences in the relative usage of question types, such as the reduced use of polar questions or increased use of content questions, may reflect cognitive limitations arising from RHD. Further investigations examining question use in this population are encouraged to replicate the current findings and to expand on the study tasks and measures.

Supplemental Material S1. Wilcoxon rank sum test.

Minga, J., Fromm, D., DeVane-Williams, C., & MacWhinney, B. (2020). Question use in adults with right-hemisphere brain damage. Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research. Advance online publication. https://doi.org/10.1044/2019_JSLHR-19-00063