Comprehension of Legal Language by Adults With and Without Traumatic Brain Injury Academic Article uri icon

  •  
  • Overview
  •  
  • Research
  •  
  • Identity
  •  
  • Additional Document Info
  •  
  • View All
  •  

abstract

  • OBJECTIVE: To characterize comprehension of written legal language in adults with and without traumatic brain injury (TBI). PARTICIPANTS: Nineteen adults with moderate-to-severe TBI (11 females) and 21 adults without TBI (13 females), aged 24 to 64 years. METHODS: Participants completed a multiple-choice assessment of legal-language comprehension, with written stimuli either presented in their original legal form or manipulated to simplify syntax or use more frequently occurring words. RESULTS: Across stimulus types, TBI group participants were significantly less accurate and slower than comparison peers, with no effect of linguistic manipulation. Working memory and reading fluency test scores correlated with task accuracy and speed in both groups. CONCLUSIONS: Adults with TBI underperformed their uninjured peers in both accuracy and speed on a task of legal-language comprehension, and these differences were attributable in part to differences in working memory and reading fluency. Results highlight the potential costs of TBI-related communication problems in criminal proceedings and the need to formally evaluate language comprehension in individuals with TBI who are in the criminal justice system.

publication date

  • May 2019