First Advisor

Mary Gordon-Brannan

Date of Publication


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Science (M.S.) in Speech Communication


Speech Communication




Questioning, Problem solving, Aphasic persons



Physical Description

1 online resource ( 2, v, 75 p.)


Problem-solving abilities of individuals with aphasia have received limited attention in their assessment and remediation. At this time, there is substantially more information available on the linguistic performance of persons with aphasia than on their cognitive processing performance. Assessment of problem-solving abilities in this population has typically used tasks with low verbal loadings. However, both linguistic and cognitive competence are required for effective communication and activities of daily life.

The purpose of the present study was to determine if mild-to-moderate subjects with aphasia differed in their question-asking strategies as compared with normal subjects. A modification of Mosher and Hornsby's (1966) Twenty Questions task was used. The Twenty Questions task is considered a verbal problem-solving task that requires a cognitive strategy.

Subjects were 12 adults with mild-to-moderate aphasia recruited from the out-patient intervention groups at the Portland Veterans Affairs Medical Center and 12 non-brain-injured adult controls from the Portland community. The experimental task required subjects to ask "yes" or "no" questions to identify a target item that the examiner was thinking of in a JO-picture array. Items in the array were selected from common categories of transportation, furniture, tools, animals, foods, and clothing. Subjects were told that the object of the "game" was to use as few questions as possible to guess the item the examiner was thinking of. Subjects were administered the experimental task three times.

Aphasic subjects were found to be significantly impaired in their use of question-asking strategies. They needed significantly more questions to identify target items than the normal controls. Their question-asking strategies used significantly fewer and less efficient constraint seeking questions than normal subjects. Some aphasic subjects used no constraint-seeking questions at all, but only hypothesis-scanning questions that targeted only one item. These results are consistent with the question-asking strategies of other brain-injured populations as assessed by the Twenty Questions task. Results suggested that individuals with aphasia may have cognitive difficulties in addition to their specific linguistic impairments.


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