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Soldiers Marching Down the Garden Path: Comprehension of Complex Language in Veterans with MTBI



This investigation examined the comprehension of complex language in Operation Iraqi Freedom (OIF) and Operation Enduring Freedom (OEF) soldiers, who have been diagnosed with a mild traumatic brain injury upon return from deployment. This experiment used the sentence structure known as a garden path sentence, where the ambiguity of the sentence leads the mind down the path to the wrong interpretation, to test the language comprehension skills of veterans diagnosed with mTBI and controls. Accuracy and reaction time were measured by answering comprehension questions about both garden path sentences and non-garden path sentences. Results demonstrated that the subjects with mTBI had difficulty with complex language which did not contain strong pragmatic cues, but that reaction times were not significantly different compared to the control subjects.

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