Word association responses in patients after traumatic brain injury
This investigation extends the author’s previous research into word association peculiarities in schizophrenic patients to a sample of brain damaged adults. Since Bleuler’s (1911) work on dementia praecox, a large number of studies and theories have attempted to link word association responses with specific thought disorders in the mentally ill. 40 neurological patients (mean age: 37.1 years) who had suffered traumatic brain injury underwent a comprehensive neuropsychological test procedure, assessing intelligence, memory, attention, visual organization, executive functions, personality traits, and self-perceived symptoms. The word association test consisted of a free response condition, an individual and a common response condition, a multiple-choice association test, and a commonality rating. The results of the brain injured group were compared with those of three groups previously studied by the author: 40 schizophrenic patients, 40 healthy controls, and 40 creative artists. Associative behavior depended, to a large degree, on the concrete task to be fulfilled: In the free response condition, the brain injured reached the highest commonality scores of all groups, but they did not improve in the common response condition. In the multiple-choice association test, they performed similarly to the schizophrenes. Distinct patterns of associative behavior could be discerned for the four groups. Contrary to what was found for healthy Ss, word association parameters were not related to personality characteristics but a number of significant correlations were obtained between association scores and self-assessed symptoms or other neuropsychological measures. With an improved methodological approach, the word association procedure appears to be a useful instrument for future research and worthy of reconsideration. The free response condition, however, seems to be the least promising method.
Key words: word association, neuropsychological assessment, brain injury
Psychologische Beiträge, Volume 41, 1999, p. 3-19
Dr. Thomas Merten