Disorders of Memory and Language

Prior to posting to this discussion, read Chapters 13 and 14 in the course text. For this discussion the instructor will randomly divide the class into two groups.

For this week’s discussion board, you have been assigned to a specific group. Within that group, you will need to claim your type in the Ashford Café. When you go to claim your type, please notate which group you are in.

Group Two:

This group will focus on memory and similar to group one, each member of the group should pick one type of memory impairment to discuss. Each student should pick a unique type. Describe the symptoms, the mechanisms in the brain that are involved, and most common etiologies. Your discussion should also include at least one original peer-reviewed research study involving the memory impairment you have chosen.

Speech and the Right Side of the Brain

We have all heard of the right side of the brain is creative and the left side is logical pop psychology statements about the brain which is of course… pop psychology. In reality both sides of the brain are fairly redundant and while one side might indeed be a bit better at something than the other it is a matter of degree and not an absolute presence or absence of ability. The other issue is that the two hemispheres of the brain simply do not work in isolation, you cannot turn off one half of your brain and get no input from it, it’s always on.

Having said all that speech is a slightly different topic and the two sides of the brain do each have an important degree of specialization. As your book points out the left side is heavily involved in the literal meaning of language; the words we pick and the order we put them. Without this there simply would not be language. Telling someone to “put the book down” takes an understanding of the words both for those that produce speech and those that receive it.

The right side of the brain is heavily specialized to control the rate, volume, and cadence of speech or prosody. In addition to the production of music and song the right side of the brain produces the emotional or social content of speech. This is by no means a trivial effort. The social meaning of speech is often more important than the literal meaning. The phrase “that’s nice” can be a compliment or an insult all depending on how it is said. The phrase “you’re in for it now” right at the start of a surprise birthday party verses the way it usually said after drinking in a bar can have very different meanings because of how they are said. The emotional content of speech is usually accompanied by facial expressions and hand gestures which are also controlled, in part, by the right brain speech areas further communicating social intent.

Damage to the right side of the brain can impair a person’s ability to produce speech with good socially appropriate content as well as their ability to understand what a person “really means”. Humor may be lost to them. Also the ability to understand and produce song and music is often impaired. It should be kept in mind however, music and the brain is not well understood.

For more along this line read:

Faber, S. & Fiveash, A. (2014). Emotion without words: A comparison study of music and speech prosody. Canadian Journal of Music Therapy, 20(2), 86-101.

Sarkamo, T., Tervaniemi, M., Soinila, S., Autti, T., Silvennoinen, H. M., Laine, M., & Hietanen, M. (2009). Amusia and cognitive deficits after stroke: Is there a relationship? The Neurosciences and Music III-Disorders and Plasticity. Ann. N.Y. Acad. Sci., 1169, 441-445.