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Brain Lang. 1996 Mar;52(3):411-34.

An exploration of right-hemisphere contributions to the pragmatic impairments of autism.

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  • 1Department of Psychology, University of Utah, Salt Lake City 84112, USA.


This study examined the potential contribution of the right hemisphere to the communicative impairments of autism. Pragmatic language measures sensitive to right-hemisphere damage were administered to nonretarded adults with autism and to controls matched on age and intellectual ability. The experimental battery included measures of humor, inference, and indirect request comprehension. Autistic subjects performed significantly less well than controls on all measures, replicating results of an earlier investigation by Rumsey and Hanahan (Journal of Clinical and Experimental Neuropsychology, 12, 81, 1990). The performance of the autistic group on the three tasks was also similar to that of right-hemisphere stroke patients reported previously (Molloy, Brownell, & Gardner, in Y. Joanette and H. M. Brownell (Eds.), Discourse ability and brain damage: Theoretical and empirical perspectives, New York: Springer-Verlag, 1990,pp. 113-130). Generalizability of these results and implications for the neuropathology of autism are discussed.

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