Organizational Structure Reduces Processing Load in the Prefrontal Cortex During Discourse Processing of Written Text: Implications for High-Level Reading Issues After TBI Adults with traumatic brain injury (TBI) can demonstrate marked difficulty producing discourse during story retell and story generation tasks. Changes in discourse production have been detailed in terms of fewer content units and infrequent use of story grammar elements essential for organization. One implication is that poor use of story ... Article
Article  |   August 01, 2012
Organizational Structure Reduces Processing Load in the Prefrontal Cortex During Discourse Processing of Written Text: Implications for High-Level Reading Issues After TBI
Author Affiliations & Notes
  • Michael S. Cannizzaro
    University of Vermont, Burlington, VT
  • Julie Dumas
    University of Vermont, Burlington, VT
  • Patricia Prelock
    University of Vermont, Burlington, VT
  • Paul Newhouse
    Vanderbilt Center for Cognitive Medicine, Nashville, TN
  • Disclosure: Julie Dumas has no financial or nonfinancial relationships related to the content of this article.
    Disclosure: Julie Dumas has no financial or nonfinancial relationships related to the content of this article.×
  • Disclosure: Patricia Prelock has no financial or nonfinancial relationships related to the content of this article.
    Disclosure: Patricia Prelock has no financial or nonfinancial relationships related to the content of this article.×
  • Disclosure: Paul Newhouse has no financial or nonfinancial relationships related to the content of this article.
    Disclosure: Paul Newhouse has no financial or nonfinancial relationships related to the content of this article.×
  • Michael Cannizzaro is an associate professor in the Department of Communication Sciences and Disorders at the University of Vermont. He conducts research investigating the relationships between language structure and cognitive abilities (e.g., executive functions) in typical and brain-injured adults. His current research incorporates the study of discourse processing using behavioral, linguistic, functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI), and functional near-infrared (fNIR) imaging methodologies.
    Michael Cannizzaro is an associate professor in the Department of Communication Sciences and Disorders at the University of Vermont. He conducts research investigating the relationships between language structure and cognitive abilities (e.g., executive functions) in typical and brain-injured adults. His current research incorporates the study of discourse processing using behavioral, linguistic, functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI), and functional near-infrared (fNIR) imaging methodologies.×
  • Julie Dumas is a research assistant professor in the Department of Psychiatry and the Clinical Neuroscience Research Unit at the University of Vermont. She completed her PhD in cognitive psychology from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill in 2002 and her BA from the University of Virginia in 1996. Dumas' research program examines the neurobiology underlying age-related cognitive dysfunction.
    Julie Dumas is a research assistant professor in the Department of Psychiatry and the Clinical Neuroscience Research Unit at the University of Vermont. She completed her PhD in cognitive psychology from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill in 2002 and her BA from the University of Virginia in 1996. Dumas' research program examines the neurobiology underlying age-related cognitive dysfunction.×
  • Patricia Prelock is the dean of the College of Nursing and Health Sciences at the University of Vermont. She also coordinates the parent training programs and resource modules designed for caregivers and providers serving children with autism spectrum disorders through the Vermont Interdisciplinary Leadership Education for Health Professionals (VT-ILEHP) Program, a Maternal & Child Health Bureau (MCHB) federally funded interdisciplinary training grant.
    Patricia Prelock is the dean of the College of Nursing and Health Sciences at the University of Vermont. She also coordinates the parent training programs and resource modules designed for caregivers and providers serving children with autism spectrum disorders through the Vermont Interdisciplinary Leadership Education for Health Professionals (VT-ILEHP) Program, a Maternal & Child Health Bureau (MCHB) federally funded interdisciplinary training grant.×
  • Paul Newhouse directs the Vanderbilt Center for Cognitive Medicine. This multidisciplinary laboratory is focused on human research studies that investigate the biological, neurochemical, and brain circuitry mechanisms that underlie changes that occur in cognitive functioning associated with pathological development, normal aging, and gender-related differences using cognitive psychology, neuropharmacology, and functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI).
    Paul Newhouse directs the Vanderbilt Center for Cognitive Medicine. This multidisciplinary laboratory is focused on human research studies that investigate the biological, neurochemical, and brain circuitry mechanisms that underlie changes that occur in cognitive functioning associated with pathological development, normal aging, and gender-related differences using cognitive psychology, neuropharmacology, and functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI).×
  • Disclosure: Michael S. Cannizzaro has no financial or nonfinancial relationships related to the content of this article.
    Disclosure: Michael S. Cannizzaro has no financial or nonfinancial relationships related to the content of this article.×
Article Information
Attention, Memory & Executive Functions / Traumatic Brain Injury / Articles
Article   |   August 01, 2012
Organizational Structure Reduces Processing Load in the Prefrontal Cortex During Discourse Processing of Written Text: Implications for High-Level Reading Issues After TBI
SIG 2 Perspectives on Neurophysiology and Neurogenic Speech and Language Disorders, August 2012, Vol. 22, 67-78. doi:10.1044/nnsld22.2.67
SIG 2 Perspectives on Neurophysiology and Neurogenic Speech and Language Disorders, August 2012, Vol. 22, 67-78. doi:10.1044/nnsld22.2.67

Adults with traumatic brain injury (TBI) can demonstrate marked difficulty producing discourse during story retell and story generation tasks. Changes in discourse production have been detailed in terms of fewer content units and infrequent use of story grammar elements essential for organization. One implication is that poor use of story grammar elements during discourse production may signal reduced ability to utilize these elements in other communication realms (e.g., reading comprehension). The neural architecture that supports discourse organization, primarily the medial prefrontal cortex, is particularly susceptible to damage secondary to acquired brain injury. In this event related functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) study, we describe cortical activation patterns of unimpaired readers as they are presented with discourse that is varied in terms of structural organization. The results suggest reading discourse with less structure is associated with increased cortical activity (e.g., higher processing demands) as compared to reading discourse with more traditional structural cues (e.g., story grammar). We discuss cortical areas implicated and potential implications for supporting discourse communication in persons following TBI.

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