Making reference: the cohesive use of pronouns in the narrative discourse of hemidecorticate adolescents

Brain Lang. 1986 Nov;29(2):224-51. doi: 10.1016/0093-934x(86)90046-5.


The cohesive use of referential language in narrative production reveals communicative goals as well as specific aspects of language use. A formalism for analyzing pronominal cohesion was developed and applied to the narrative discourse of three hemidecorticate adolescents. The results revealed hemisphere-dependent differences in overall narrative skill as well as distinct individual discourse strategies. Neither left hemidecorticate planned narration in extended discourse units: One demonstrated a linear and highly explicit discourse style with redundant over-statement of referent nouns and the other produced narratives cluttered with pronouns of both correct and ambiguous reference, relying on nonpersonal pronouns at considerable cost to narrative specificity. The right hemidecorticate produced narratives that were more economical in form and richer in content: He was the only subject able to maintain simultaneous story lines with multiple pronouns and referential relationships cohesively embedded. All subjects expressed at least some story content, but only the right hemidecorticate narratives conveyed suggestion and implication as well as explicit statement.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Aphasia / diagnosis*
  • Brain Damage, Chronic / diagnosis
  • Cerebral Decortication*
  • Dominance, Cerebral*
  • Dyslexia, Acquired / diagnosis
  • Epilepsy / surgery*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Postoperative Complications / diagnosis*
  • Semantics*
  • Speech Production Measurement*
  • Sturge-Weber Syndrome / complications