Vol. 5 nº 4 - Oct/Nov/Dec de 2011
Original Article Páginas: 337 a 345

Pragmatic and executive functions in traumatic brain injury and right brain damage: An exploratory comparative study

Authors Nicolle Zimmermann1,2; Gigiane Gindri1,3; Camila Rosa de Oliveira1,2; Rochele Paz Fonseca1,4


keywords: brain injuries, stroke, executive function, communication disorders.

Objective: To describe the frequency of pragmatic and executive deficits in right brain damaged (RBD) and in traumatic brain injury (TBI) patients, and to verify possible dissociations between pragmatic and executive functions in these two groups. Methods: The sample comprised 7 cases of TBI and 7 cases of RBD. All participants were assessed by means of tasks from the Montreal Communication Evaluation Battery and executive functions tests including the Trail Making Test, Hayling Test, Wisconsin Card Sorting Test, semantic and phonemic verbal fluency tasks, and working memory tasks from the Brazilian Brief Neuropsychological Assessment Battery NEUPSILIN. Z-score was calculated and a descriptive analysis of frequency of deficits (Z< -1.5) was carried out. Results: RBD patients presented with deficits predominantly on conversational and narrative discursive tasks, while TBI patients showed a wider spread pattern of pragmatic deficits. Regarding EF, RBD deficits included predominantly working memory and verbal initiation impairment. On the other hand, TBI individuals again exhibited a general profile of executive dysfunction, affecting mainly working memory, initiation, inhibition, planning and switching. Pragmatic and executive deficits were generally associated upon comparisons of RBD patients and TBI cases, except for two simple dissociations: two post-TBI cases showed executive deficits in the absence of pragmatic deficits. Discussion: Pragmatic and executive deficits can be very frequent following TBI or vascular RBD. There seems to be an association between these abilities, indicating that although they can co-occur, a cause-consequence relationship cannot be the only hypothesis.


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