Date of Award

Spring 2020

Project Type


Program or Major

Communication Sciences and Disorders

Degree Name

Master of Science

First Advisor

Kathryn J Greenslade

Second Advisor

Kathryn J Greenslade

Third Advisor

Amy Ramage


Background: Narrative organization, as measured by story grammar analysis, is often impaired in individuals with traumatic brain injury (TBI). However, existing analyses for adults with TBI use relatively simple stories and typically capture the proportion of tangential contributions, rather than organization itself.

Aim: This study’s aim was to expand upon existing analyses by comparing story grammar organization in a complex story, Cinderella, told by individuals with TBI versus non-brain injured (NBI) individuals. Expanded analyses addressed narrative length in episodes and story grammar elements, episodic completeness and elaboration, and the proportion of non-story grammar (NSG) elements (e.g., tangents).

Methods: Transcripts of Cinderella narratives for 29 adults with TBI and 29 age- and sex-matched adults with NBI were retrieved from TalkBank. Codes corresponding to story grammar or NSG elements were assigned predominantly at the clause level. Codes were used to identify complete episodes, containing one of each basic element (initiating event, attempt, direct consequence), and elaborated episodes, containing elements beyond the basic three (multiple basic elements, mental states, setting statements).

Results: Mann-Whitney U-tests revealed that the TBI group produced significantly fewer episodes, story grammar elements, and elaborate-complete episodes, and significantly more NSG elements than the NBI group.

Conclusions: On average, individuals with TBI produced shorter narratives with fewer episodes, less elaboration, and more elements that were tangential or off-topic than NBI counterparts. This study’s measure of episodic completeness and elaboration expanded on existing analyses to generate a more accurate and specific image of narrative deficits in those with TBI.