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J Int Neuropsychol Soc. 2005 Jul;11(4):426-33.

Role of frontal cortex in inferential reasoning: evidence from the word context test.

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  • 1Transitional Living Center, Casa Colina Centers for Rehabilitation, 255 East Bonita Ave., Pomona, CA 91769-6001, USA.



Inferential reasoning in language involves the ability to deduce information based on context and prior experience. This ability has been generally studied as a right-hemisphere function. Recent research, however, has suggested that inferencing involves anterior regions of both the left and right hemispheres.


We further explored this idea by testing a group of non-aphasic, focal frontal patients (right and left hemisphere) on a new test of inferencing, the Word Context Test. The Word Context Test requires examinees to identify the meaning of a made-up word (e.g., prifa) based on its use in a series of sentences.


Patients with frontal lobe lesions were significantly impaired on this task relative to a group of age- and education-matched controls. Contrary to earlier research focusing on a special role for the right hemisphere in inferencing, there was considerable overlap in performance of right- and left-frontal patients, with right-frontal patients performing better.


These findings suggest that inferencing is disrupted following focal frontal injury and have implications for discourse comprehension in non-aphasic patients.

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