Auditory affective agnosia. Disturbed comprehension of affective speech.
Hughlings Jackson noted that, although some aphasic patients were unable to use propositional speech, affective speech appeared to be spared. The purpose of this experiment was to study patients with unilateral hemispheric disease in order to ascertain if there are hemispheric asymmetries in the comprehension of affective speech. Six subjects had right temporoparietal lesions (left unilateral neglect) and six subjects had left temporoparietal lesions (fluent aphasias). These subjects were presented with 32 tape recorded sentences. In 16 trials the patients were asked to judge the emotional mood of the speaker (happy, sad, angry, indifferent) and in 16 trials the patients were asked to judge the content. Line drawings containing facial expressions of the four emotions or line drawings corresponding with the four basic contents were displayed with each sentence and the patient responded by pointing. All 12 subjects made perfect scores on the content portion of the test. On the emotional portion the right hemispheric patients scored a mean of 4-17 and the left hemispheric group scored a mean 10-17. The difference between these means is significantly (P less than 0-01) and suggests that patients with right hemispheric dysfunction and neglect have a defect in the comprehension of affective speech.