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Unraveling the Impact of Neurobehavioral Symptoms on Predictive Language Comprehension: An Event-Related Potential Study

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Poster B25 in Poster Session B, Tuesday, October 24, 3:30 - 5:15 pm CEST, Espace Vieux-Port
This poster is part of the Sandbox Series.

Tara Flaugher1, Antonio Allevato1, Nicole Wicha1; 1University of Texas at San Antonio

Introduction: Neurobehavioral symptoms (NBS) may develop as the result of mild traumatic brain injury (mTBI) but are also common in individuals without a history of head injury. These symptoms include processing speed issues and have been associated with lowered cognitive-linguistic performance, and may explain why those with mTBI history may have difficulty following conversations. Regardless of symptom origin, a possible neurocognitive mechanism that may be impacted by high NBS is prediction or the ability to use contextual information to anticipate upcoming words. Prediction ensures language comprehension is quick, timely, and efficient when engaging in a conversation. However, high NBS may disrupt this mechanism, resulting in slower, less efficient conversations due to a decreased ability to use context to predict upcoming words in a conversation. Methods: The relationship between NBS and language comprehension will be examined by using the well-studied N400, an event-related potential component, that indexes the use of contextual information. The N400 will be measured to nouns in adjective-noun pairs of varying predictability (high, low, and incongruent). A normative sample of young adults, who self-report a NBS on a continuum will actively or passively predict the nouns. The neurobehavioral symptom inventory (NSI) will be used to measure self-reported NBS. Anticipated Results: Typically, unpredictable context generates more negative N400 amplitudes compared to those measured in response to predictable context because there is not sufficient information to facilitate access to semantic memory. If NBS impairs the use of context, then individuals with high NBS should show more negative N400 amplitudes for highly predictable noun pairings as if they were unpredicted, thus yielding a reduced N400 effect, while amplitudes for incongruent and low predictable pairing will remain constant. This reduced facilitation for the more predictable words can be interpreted as highlighting a deficiency in the ability to use meaningful context to facilitate language comprehension. This effect should be emphasized in the active prediction task, but may also be present in the passive reading task if symptoms have a significant impact on prediction. Implications: This study is motivated by the lack of objective measures for language comprehension problems in individuals experiencing persistent NBS, such as after mTBI. The results from this study will shed light on how NBS impact access to semantic memory in those with high NBS and will elucidate the impact of NBS on prediction in language comprehension.

Topic Areas: Meaning: Lexical Semantics, Reading

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