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Differential impairments in irony comprehension in brain-damaged individuals: Insight from contextual processing, theory of mind, and executive functions.

Abstract : Objective: The comprehension of irony can be affected after brain injuries. The cognitive mechanisms accounting for such disorders remain yet unclear. The heterogeneity of cognitive profiles of brain-damaged individuals and the use of independent tests to measure the links between these mechanisms and the comprehension of irony might contribute to this lack of clarity. The present study aimed to further explore the underlying mechanisms of irony-understanding disorders (i.e., context processing, executive functions [EF], and theory of mind [ToM]) in patients with brain lesions. Method: We used a paradigm manipulating these mechanisms within an irony task to identify different patterns of pragmatic performance associated with cognitive profiles. We administered this task and standard neuropsychological tests assessing EF and ToM to 30 participants with acquired brain injury (ABI) and 30 healthy control (HC) participants. Results: A cluster analysis revealed that two thirds of the participants with ABI (3 subgroups out of 4) presented atypical pragmatic and neuropsychological patterns. The most severe disturbances in understanding irony, characterized by insensitivity to the context, were associated with a joint impairment of ToM and EF in 1 subgroup. In the 2 other context-sensitive subgroups, an isolated deficit in EF co-occurred with difficulties dealing with literal or ironic statements when the EF demand of the irony task was increased. However, the effect of this EF demand could be negated by the presence of markers helping the comprehension of irony. Conclusion: These results have important clinical implications for the evaluation and therapy of pragmatic disorders in individuals with ABI. Key Points Question: Explore the role of 3 cognitive mechanisms-context processing, EF, and ToM-in the comprehension of irony in patients with ABI. Findings: There are distinct subgroups of ABI, defined by different associations between these mechanisms and the understanding of irony. Importance: These cognitive mechanisms and the pathological profiles related to them should be considered in the development of assessment tools and therapies. Next Steps: The effectiveness of treatments targeting these cognitive mechanisms on the comprehension of irony should be further explored.
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https://hal.archives-ouvertes.fr/hal-02996068
Contributeur : Maud Champagne-Lavau <>
Soumis le : lundi 9 novembre 2020 - 14:34:48
Dernière modification le : mardi 17 novembre 2020 - 03:21:48

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Natacha Cordonier, Marion Fossard, Maud Champagne-Lavau. Differential impairments in irony comprehension in brain-damaged individuals: Insight from contextual processing, theory of mind, and executive functions.. Neuropsychology, American Psychological Association, 2020, 34 (7), pp.750-763. ⟨10.1037/neu0000682⟩. ⟨hal-02996068⟩

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