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December 1981

Disturbances in Prosody: A Right-Hemisphere Contribution to Language

Author Affiliations

From the Behavioral Neurology Section, Department of Neurology, Harvard University; and the Charles A. Dana Research Institute, Beth Israel Hospital, Boston. Ms Kramer is now at Vanderbilt University Medical School, Nashville, Tenn.

Arch Neurol. 1981;38(12):742-744. doi:10.1001/archneur.1981.00510120042004

• In addition to grammar and semantics, prosody constitutes a third element of speech. Modulations of prosody can produce alterations in the meaning and affective tone of spoken language. Previous studies have suggested that righthemisphere lesions may selectively disrupt a patient's ability to interpret and express the affective component of prosody. On the other hand, this study shows that the effect of right-hemisphere damage on prosody is more widespread. Thus, when discrimination, repetition, and spontaneous production of nonemotional prosody were tested in nine patients with right-sided brain injuries and ten control subjects without brain damage, the patients were found to be significantly worse than the control subjects in their ability to distinguish and express prosodic features that provide phonemic or emphatic information. These results suggest that right-hemisphere damage may affect prosody in a more general manner than was previously assumed.

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