Aphasics' comprehension of contextually conveyed meaning

M. Jeanne Wilcox, G. Albyn Davis, Laurence B. Leonard

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

59 Scopus citations


Eighteen aphasics and seven normal controls were examined as to their ability to comprehend utterances when correct interpretation required integration of extralinguistic cues in a natural setting. Videotaped situations were presented in which the correct interpretation of an utterance was not the literal interpretation but was the meaning conveyed by the request in a particular context. The aphasics' performance with indirect requests was superior to their performance on a standard battery of auditory comprehension tasks. Standard tests of auditory language comprehension, therefore, offer a measure of aphasic breakdown in linguistic processing but do not adequately reflect aphasics' receptive abilities in natural communicative settings. When the aphasic subjects did demonstrate difficulties with natural settings, their difficulty was, in part, a function of their level of performance on the standard battery. In addition, when the linguistic element of the communicative setting conveyed negative intent, aphasics were further reduced in their ability to interpret a message correctly. Otherwise, the aphasic subjects performance resembled that of the normal controls in that they demonstrated the capacity to utilize extralinguistic cues to discern correctly the conveyed intent in many requests.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)362-377
Number of pages16
JournalBrain and Language
Issue number3
StatePublished - Nov 1978
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

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


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