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Stealing cookies: New norms (Berube et al., 2018)

posted on 2018-09-12, 19:33 authored by Shauna Berube, Jodi Nonnemacher, Cornelia Demsky, Shenly Glenn, Sadhvi Saxena, Amy Wright, Donna C. Tippett, Argye E. Hillis
Purpose: Our goal was to evaluate an updated version of the “Cookie Theft” picture by obtaining norms based on picture descriptions by healthy controls for total content units (CUs), syllables per CU, and the ratio of left–right CUs. In addition, we aimed to compare these measures from healthy controls to picture descriptions obtained from individuals with poststroke aphasia and primary progressive aphasia (PPA) to assess whether these measures can capture impairments in content and efficiency of communication.
Method: Using an updated version of this picture, we analyzed descriptions from 50 healthy controls to develop norms for numbers of syllables, total CUs, syllables per CU, and left–right CU. We provide preliminary data from 44 individuals with aphasia (19 with poststroke aphasia and 25 with PPA).
Results: A total of 96 CUs were established based on the written transcriptions of spoken picture descriptions of the 50 control participants. There was a significant effect of group on total CUs, syllables, syllables per CU, and left–right CUs. The poststroke participants produced significantly fewer total CU and syllables than those with PPA. Each aphasic group produced significantly fewer total CUs, fewer syllables, more syllables per CU, and lower left–right CUs (indicating a right-sided bias) compared to controls.
Conclusions: Results show that the measures of numbers of syllables, total CUs, syllables per CU, and left–right CUs can distinguish language output of individuals with aphasia from controls and capture impairments in content and efficiency of communication. A limitation of this study is that we evaluated only 44 individuals with aphasia. In the future, we will evaluate other measures, such as CUs per minute, lexical variability, grammaticality, and ratio of nouns to verbs.

Supplemental Material S1. Syllables, total content units (CUs), syllables/content unity (CU), and left;right CUs for participants with post-stroke aphasia (individual data) and for participants with primary progressive aphasia (individual data).

Supplemental Material S2. Examples of the picture descriptions by participants.

Supplemental Material S3. Comparison of measures of descriptions of the first update (Figure 1 of main article) and second update (Figure 2 of main article) of the picture by healthy controls.

Berube, S., Nonnemacher, J., Demsky, C., Glenn, S., Saxena, S., ... Hillis, A. E. (2018). Stealing cookies in the twenty-first century: Measures of spoken narrative in healthy versus speakers with aphasia. American Journal of Speech-Language Pathology, 28(1S), 321-329.

Publisher Note: This article is part of the Special Issue: Select Papers From the 47th Clinical Aphasiology Conference.


This work was supported by the National Institutes of Health (National Institute of Deafness and Communication Disorders) through R01 DC05375 (A. E. H., A. W.), P50 DC014664 (S. B., J. N., D. C. T., and A. E. H.), and R01 DC015466 (A. E. H., S. S.).