Narrative discourse after closed head injury in children and adolescents

Sandra B. Chapman, Kathleen A. Culhane, Harvey S. Levin, Harriet Harward, Dianne Mendelsohn, Linda Ewing-Cobbs, Jack M. Fletcher, Derek Bruce

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

165 Scopus citations


This study examined narrative discourse in 20 children and adolescents at least 1 year after sustaining a head injury. Narratives were analyzed along the dimensions of language structure, information structure, and flow of information. Severity of impaired consciousness was associated with a significant reduction in the amount of language and information. The most important finding which emerged was the disruption in information structure. This pattern confirms the impression of disorganized discourse in severely injured children. Explanations for the disruption in information structure are explored in terms of the role of vocabulary, memory, and localization of lesion according to magnetic resonance imaging. In view of recent evidence that frontal lobe damage is associated with discourse formulation deficits in adults and is the most common site of focal lesion in closed head injury, we examined discourse patterns in individual patients with frontal lobe lesions. Preliminary data from our single-case studies suggest discourse patterns similar to those reported for adults with frontal lobe injuries.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)42-65
Number of pages24
JournalBrain and language
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jul 1992

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Language and Linguistics
  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
  • Linguistics and Language
  • Cognitive Neuroscience
  • Speech and Hearing


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